Life

Christmas sucks

“But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.”

The Gospel according to John

I got half a mind to scream out loud, I got have half a mind to die-

David Gray

I’ve read the Christmas posts, seen the reindeer pajamas, laughed at myself, then cried. I have always struggled with Christmas, especially as a Jewish person finding her way as a Christian in the world of reds and greens, happy Santas and nativity sets. I have struggled to understand why Christmas lights make Christians so mad, or why they are so upset about Santa. I have never understood in all the years I’ve been a Christian why I don’t feel the Christmas joy at all…

I have struggled with my expectations of Christmas, as I am sure many of you have. Some of us have lost loved ones and traditions are just not the same without them. Or maybe you’re working. Or maybe like me you’re some sort of convert (aren’t we all though?) fumbling their way through the Christmas festivities.

I decorated, bought the gifts, lit advent candles, went to mass as per our usual routine. I tried to anticipate, to see what everyone else was “seeing.” I read the posts about cancelling Christmas for kids who are bad, the posts that talk about Christmas as a pagan holiday, or Christmas trees that are just from the devil. I have read about the uproar of plain red Starbucks cups and C&E Christians and from people who are not Christians at all. For all that I’ve read and all that I’ve seen, (including the perfect family Christmas pictures replete with elves and bells and matching pajamas) I have to say I am completely unimpressed. I’m not the grinch, I’m just a girl who’s looking for the real Christmas.

My kids, they have been fighting for days. Mass, it was filled with standing room only (no strike that, no room at all). I have no family that celebrates Christmas, not one. I sat alone with my husband last night, two Jews eating a Christmas ham and casserole, kids crying upstairs on Christmas Eve, sans Christmas music.

I cried because I tried to plan the perfect Christmas. I tried to decorate the only way a little Jewish girl knows how. I bought the gifts, not many, but ones I knew the kids would enjoy. I filled the house with candles, an advent wreath and sugar cookies in the refrigerator. I got them each those ridiculous looking Christmas pajamas, as I do every year, threw reindeer bells in the backyard. They still fought and hated each other. I was still sitting in my dress from mass, no shoes, tired eyes. 

I imagine many people feel the same way as me in some way, shape or fashion. It’s cliche to comeback and say Christmas is about Jesus so get rid of everything else and send your kids to go do a service project in Africa. My kids are little. I have three of them. I gave up all of my possessions, sold them all, and followed God’s leading to a small house away from where we were. Then I got rid of more extras.

I give money away when I feel prompted; the way I see it it’s just paper with a bunch of dead presidents. I visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every Wednesday. I pray constantly, and then some more. I make my kids go to mass, AND listen (or at least try). I wear a veil because God called me to. My kids still fight and hate each other, and then love each other and then punch each other in the face. They still believe in Santa Claus. They still can’t quite understand why the rest of the world doesn’t believe in Jesus.

It took me awhile after crying, stuffing my face with the kosherest of hams, having a screamd-filled dinner, an overpacked mass, ungrateful kids (because that’s just kids), more screaming, sitting here while my kids are each in their rooms having their own little Christmas, that life doesn’t stop for our expectations. That Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That although we celebrate his birth, I celebrate it everyday. That today is special yes, but not more special than the day he found me, then the moment I knew my husband found him, when He saved our marriage, or the moment I realized His calling me home to the Catholic church was the moment I had been waiting for but just didn’t know it. I thought of all those moments, and more, and realized for me I can’t glorify this day above all days, expecting that the day will be filled with perfect Jesus moments and kids who just can’t understand quite yet that the reason their family is together is because of that little baby.

He is an innocent baby, a youth, a rabbi, a  grown man, a mystery. And He exists everyday for me, just as important as the next. On the days I don’t have perfect expectations for myself or my kids, it seems to work out, I just have to let Him in.

So I’ve decided that today is like every other day. The kids will be fighting, ungrateful and well, just being kids. My husband and I will try for the millionth time to understand why every holiday sucks. We’ll threaten to take away presents and try to “cancel” Christmas. The kids will spend some time in their rooms. I’ll read the scripture of the day and pray and thank God that in all my chaos my family is together. And I’ll let my expectations float away with my grief over my unperfect day.

And I hope you will too…

 

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9 thoughts on “Christmas sucks

  1. It sucks inpart because we build it all up so very much to be just that, perfect—that warm cozy winter wonderland Currier and Ives sort of Christmas—it sucks because there is a great deal of pressure on parents to make it all tv wonderful—plus as you have young kids—who are as you say, kids—they get tried and over stimulated–and it often doesn’t help that our expectations as parents for and of our children are much higher during “these special times of year” as we aim for Bing Crosby singing in the living room as the red suited jolly ol fellow is filling up the stockings—and you, my jewish catholic friend, may be trying a bit too hard to make it all too wonderful as your own expectations are so high for that joyous mystical moment of this epic birthday…
    Plus everyone is tired—running 90 to nothing as Christmas is just a very hard time—as it conjures up so many memories–good and bad—those we have loved, lost and now greatly miss.
    There will be good family Christmases and not so good—tis the nature of the beast when “family” is involved. I say this as the now 56 year old mom who has run the gauntlet of those Christmases when children were little, husbands worked way too long and was never at home, when parents had died prematurely and a much younger woman had to work and then hold it all toghether for everyone around her—and now I smile knowingly as I picture you eating that oh so unkosher ham of yours, as I go get my ham ready for my husband and I as our’s are gown and have come and gone during this day of here and there —
    I love you my friend—and as Susan stated earlier—Jesus is present in you life 365 days a year–and loves you though the fighting kids and unkosher hams—so Merry Christmas my friend—Merry Christmas indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so poetically beautiful as only you could say it. I decided to take my godmother up on her invitation after all and spend tonight with her family which has become my family, as she is the woman who God used to lead me to Christ. I decided today to surrender to the mess and the craziness, the paint and glitter glue, one million broken pieces and a husband whose OCD was beyond on edge. I have such trouble just “being” in the moment- I imagine most people do. Sometimes, I treat my mind like a camera and make myself take a mental snap shot of a moment when I am lost in the future. It is such a fine line.
      Lots of love to you on the day of our great savior’s birth. Love you-
      M

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