Unwrapping Myself at Christmas

  • Unwrapping Myself at Christmas
Unwrapping Myself at Christmas

Quick, what's the first thing that pops into your head when you think about Christmas? Food? Family? Jesus? Snow? Stress?

Until recently Christmas was the most comfortable time of the year for me. I looked forward to returning to my parents' for winter break, on holiday from regular student life. And Christmas was always exactly how I expected it to be: warm house, baking everywhere (just begging me to eat it), evenings out with old friends, lazy days filled with nostalgic movies and video games with my siblings. Life was carefree again and I was in bliss.

At least, that's how I like to remember it. Looking back I see the memory is slightly inflated and completely ignores the bickering over what to watch, the complaining over who should help with dinner, and the knocking on the bedroom door encouraging me to “get up and help around the house.”

Before I officially moved out on my own I didn't realize expectations and attitudes surrounding Christmas (for better or for worse) are generally shaped by what role you play. I had always loved Christmas because each December I played the role of the lazy teenager despite the fact I was no longer one. I had always loved this time of year because everything was so simple: everyone else did all the work while I slept in.

My yearly reverting to teenager was a magical transformation, one I kind of miss now that I no longer have a bedroom or a winter break to look forward to at my parents' home. I also miss the blissful ignorance I lived in, not even for a moment recognizing just how much work this whole Christmas thing takes to pull off. Now that I don't have the luxury of idling I notice how busy the season is, and how much time I don't have for baking, entertaining, or decorating. Now that my role is changing Christmas doesn't seem as carefree as it once was.

The shift in roles is something I'm only beginning to come to terms with. Suddenly it occurs to me: maybe my holiday homecoming wasn't as blissful for my parents as it was for me? Say it isn't so!

As this year comes to a close I'm determined for the season to be different. Although it won't be as simple as in years past I have resolved to rid myself of my selfish attitude, only interested in what I can get out of Christmas. As well I'm cutting out the lazing around, staying up all night, and disappearing immediately after mealtime.

This year, I will attempt to notice what will make my family's Christmas blissful and try my best to give it to them. My new goal is to become a “familiar guest.” Someone who is comfortable enough to get her own coffee, but not so comfortable she leaves her dirty laundry on the floor for someone else to deal with.

Here are my best guesses:

What My Father Wants for Christmas

  • Uninterrupted sports viewing time
  • A chance to go to a movie he chooses
  • Someone else to do the dishes
  • A vacation from work
  • To listen to country music without anyone complaining

What My Mother Wants for Christmas

  • A clean, welcoming home
  • A vacation from work
  • Quality family time
  • A chance to go to the movies
  • Time for hobbies

What My Brothers Want for Christmas

  • Guy movie marathons
  • Video game marathons
  • Useful gifts having nothing to do with soap-on-a-rope
  • Time and freedom to see friends visiting for the holidays
  • Uninterrupted sports viewing time

What My Sisters Want for Christmas

  • Time for shopping
  • No pressure to purchase big, impressive gifts
  • Time off from everyday life
  • Time and freedom to see friends who are home for the holidays
  • Family games

When I look at this list it doesn't seem unreasonable for me to give up some of my wants for some of theirs. If by taking an extra shift of cooking or dishes the rest of my family can relax a bit more it is certainly a good reason to take it on.

And now that I think about it, I suspect this attitude will add a lot more meaning and value to the holidays than ever before. All the other years have been more about what I want and about what I can get. But this year, I want to be a blessing. By celebrating Christ's birth in this new way, I believe I will know Him in a deeper way, in the servant way (Matthew 20:26-28, 23:11-12; Mark 9:35, 10:43-45).

Now that I think about it, isn't that what it's really about? How did I miss it all these years? I was so wrapped up in myself I forgot the point. Yes, this year will be different.