Becoming the Christmas Grinch

I made a comment the other day that I had to retract as soon as the words left my mouth.  The comment was, "I hate this time of year."  But as soon as I had voiced the words, I realized that wasn't true.  I don't hate this time of year.  I love it.  I love the Christmas season.  I love bundling up in my favorite snowman sweater, hanging Christmas decorations, buying (and receiving) gifts, and spending time with family and friends.  What I meant to say was "I hate myself this time of year."

As much as I love the season, I find myself so stressed out.  Trying to find the time to get everything done and the money to buy gifts drives me crazy.  The number of events I feel obligated to attend grieves my spirit.  The growing commercialism and the lack of "good will toward men" aggravates me.  To put it bluntly, I become the Grinch.  It's not that I hate Christmas; I just hate the person I become this time of year.

Because of the overwhelming stress and the many obligations, it doesn't take much to send me into a whirlwind of despair and self-pity, not to mention anger and bitterness.  "What do you mean I have to give up two of my Saturdays to come to play practice?"  "Don't tell me I have to buy a gift for her too."  "Sure, I'll put together that Christmas presentation.  After all, I don't need sleep anymore, do I?"

See what I mean?  Things have already been so bad this year that I was beginning to think I'm a truly horrible person.  What kind of Grinch complains so much at Christmas time?  The one who has lost sight of what Christmas is all about.  Christmas is not about programs, presents and cards.  It's not about finding the best gift for each person on your list or doing up the house with a boatload of decorations that are going to have to come down again in a month.  It's not about presenting the perfect cantata or Christmas program.  Christmas is about Christ.  It's His birthday.

It's easy to get so bogged down with all the to-do lists of Christmas that we lose sight of why we're celebrating.  No wonder I've lost my Christmas joy.  I've had my priorities all messed up.  So I've decided to make a few changes.  First of all, my friends, I will not be sending Christmas cards this year.  I don't have the time and money to invest in them, so I'm not going to stress about it.  Second, I made a point to not volunteer for any programs or presentations this year (although I've been drafted for a couple).  Third, I decided to shop from my heart.  No, the gift may not be expensive, but the recipient can rest assured that the gift came from my heart.  Lastly, every time I start stressing about how much I still have to do before December 25th, I'm going to make myself stop and think about the Reason for the season.  After all, the celebration is for Jesus.  Shouldn't He get something out of the deal?