We are officially only a few short days away from Christmas weekend. I have said in the past that this time of year is stressful for me. This year, I take that statement back. I think the stress itself is self-induced. It’s all in how we handle things.
Yes, it is busy – hectic even. We spend a lot of our time trying to wrap things up that, frankly, should’ve been taken care of before now. Of course there is plenty of shopping, and as a result, putting our patience and resilience to the test with those other shoppers out there that have also waited until the last few weeks to make their purchases. We also have to deal with scheduling conflicts with family, friends and work. It doesn’t seem like we have enough time to squeeze everything that we want or need to do into the span of a few short days. And on top of it all, in the midst of a time of “peace on earth and good will toward men” we are inundated with rudeness, selfishness, and inconsiderateness.
But it can really only be considered “stress”, in my opinion, if we let those things get to us.
And this year, I am making every effort to not let it get to me.
This is a year of changes though – one of transition – and one of extra emotion.
First of all – this is only the second full holiday season we have had without either of my wife’s parents, which kind of leaves a gaping hole in part of our festivities. In fact, her side of the family is basically just her sister, bother-in-law, and niece – at least as far as holidays are concerned. And that’s okay, really – we love them to death! We don’t get to spend as much time with them as we would like, but the time we do get to spend with them is awesome. Unfortunately it kind of makes me feel guilty (and, yes, I know it shouldn’t – so don’t start) that in contrast, my side of the family just keeps getting bigger.
In addition to my parents, Grandma, and a few random aunts or cousins, my brother got married this year – so on top of his three fantastic kids, he also has a new wife and an awesome step-daughter. Not to mention the fact that his two oldest are getting to the age where they are starting to bring boyfriends and girlfriends occasionally. Again – none of this is a problem. It’s great, and I love each and every one of them no matter how crazy and boisterous our get-togethers end up getting. The more, the merrier – right?
Then there is our daughter. In June our family expanded by one when she married the best son-in-law we could’ve possibly hoped for. He is a strong, talented, smart, mature man of God. And (very important to her daddy) treats her like a young lady ought to be treated. And now, not surprisingly, they are expecting their first child. So next year, our family will be expanded by one more – a new baby – a grandchild.
This is the point where the majority of the extra emotion comes into play I guess. Just thinking about how much my baby girl has grown up – remembering all of those Christmases past – exchanging gifts early in the morning wearing our pajamas, sipping on coffee. Whether it was those few years when it was just the two of us – daddy and daughter against the world – or later on when we were blessed enough to share those moments (and our love) with a new wife and step-mom. We had some great times – made some great memories.
And now, starting next year, we get to be part of those memories for her young family. It is an awesome responsibility – an overwhelming blessing – and a chapter in my life that I look forward to embracing.
So, Okay – we have a lot to do – a lot to accomplish between now and Saturday morning. But instead of feeling stressed about it, I consciously choose to focus on how much more we have to look forward to, both this Christmas – and all of our Christmases to come. And we are going to make sure that no one takes the “Merry” out of our Christmas!