Whose idea was it, anyway, that everything had to be perfect at Christmastime? Where did that come from? All of a sudden, people feel the pressure to present a flawless - and more often than not, false - face to the world; to be merry and bright, regardless of reality.
But what if things aren't so merry and bright in your world? What if your life doesn't even remotely resemble what you hoped it would/thought it should by now?
Maybe it's your health - cancer was not in your life plan. Nor an early heart attack. And definitely not those forty extra pounds.
Maybe your family - or lack thereof.
Maybe your finances - or lack thereof.
Maybe your relationships - conflict and indifference and pettiness and strife and strain or abuse or neglect or abandonment.
Maybe your career - stuck in a dead-end job you hate; or no job at all.
I want to believe that it's the power of the true meaning of Christmas that overshadows all of these issues and fills us to overflowing with gratitude for Jesus and love for humanity and joy to the world - but I'm not convinced. I have no doubt that God wants to give us joy, no matter what our circumstances, but I don't think the joy of the Lord would manifest itself in over-spending and over-indulgence, denial and pretense.
Can we just stop all the forced merry-making? Can we stop spending hundreds of dollars we don't have on things our loved ones don't need? Can we stop feeling obligated to stuff our faces with every single goody offered us? Can we drop these ridiculous expectations to feel a certain way this Christmas?
Have I just totally thrown cold water on your Christmas warm fuzzies? I really am sorry if this post is a downer. Maybe you love Christmas - maybe, for you, it's the one time of year when everything is as it should be all the time - family together, giving generously, loving our neighbour, caring for the poor and needy, giving thanks for the real gifts...
Maybe that's the real issue here - all that's best and most genuine in this season should be evident year-round, not just for a few weeks in December.
All I know is that December's arrival set something off in me this year - a hunger, a wanting, an impatience, a yearning; a dissatisfaction with the way the season's been hijacked and distorted.
I want less, but I also want more - something essentially, qualitatively different. Is that even possible?
How about you? I'd really love to hear your thoughts on all this - I need a fresh perspective.