He grew up in communist Yugoslavia where Christmas meant a lot of Christmas baking, a huge meal and a pig roasted over an open fire in their yard.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States where Christmas was like “It’s a Wonderful Life” in Technicolor. From the house and yard lit to kingdom come, Christmas candies and cookies, to the freshly cut tree decorated and pretty presents piled under and all around.
Our first Christmas really magnified our differences: he couldn’t understand why I’d go to such incredible lengths to turn our apartment upside down and buy all those presents; and I couldn’t fathom someone having never gone caroling! !!!!
Each year we revisited these differences and each year they became more and more annoying to me.
I saw our Christmas traditions (okay, in the spirit of honesty – MY Christmas traditions) as somewhat of a Grand Canyon that we would never be able to hurdle.
And then we moved into our first home.
I saw the handwriting on the wall the first day. We got all of our furniture into the living room – which also serves as a dining room – just barely. I looked around – no room for our tree.
Deep disappointment set in. Mentally I rearranged our living room 500 different ways, but each time came up empty.
I was faced with a choice – one I should have made five years ago:
Change seems to be word I’m daily confronted with lately, and I’m learning to look upon it as friend, not foe.
As we approached Thanksgiving, I decided I wanted to greet the holiday season with open arms and embrace every bit of each message. Part of that was deciding to scale back – way back – on Christmas.
I realized that the past five years I had been trying to recreate my childhood Christmases that had held such a deeply special place in my heart. And that is exactly where they need to be. Deep in my heart – a place I can fondly reminisce.
I was frantically gripping tradition in my fist and holding it between us as an expectation that was far from realistic. And what resulted from that was a time of year that was stressful and disappointing as expectation after expectation fell in the dust. This was not fair to my family and in the end no one was happy about it.
This is not what Christmas is about. Worship of tradition. Worship of personal expectation. Worship of the decorations, smells, goodies, presents, music…
Debate over whether the Timelife Classics are better than Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Or whether a manger is better than a tree.
In the midst of what we feel “makes” Christmas, we forget the central figure of Christmas!
It’s like having a birthday party and getting all caught up in the decorations, treats, presents, invitation lists and ideas of how it ought to celebrated – and forgetting to invite the person whose birthday is being celebrated!
I also realized that facing this reality did not mean loss – but opportunity. Opportunity to make new traditions that can be just as meaningful. And in doing so, making this time of year more peaceful and enjoyable for all!
In dialing down on decorating and baking, I will be trying some new things with my family.
Here are 9 ways we are dial down Christmas
I am actually really looking forward to Christmas this year!! I am looking forward to all of the “newness” it will bring, and creating all that newness with my family!