That year, Christmas was just another task on my to-do list. No magical feelings of the season took hold; no yuletide cheer; no gleeful joy; no warmth of goodwill; no sense of spirit. It was just more stuff to do. But, it was that Christmas that changed my thinking.
Come back with me a few decades. Somewhere between moving from California to Pennsylvania, starting a new job, buying a house, and juggling childcare logistics in a state where we knew no one, I was neck-deep in life-overload as Christmas approached.
But, I was determined to make it a special one for our family of three since it was our first Christmas away from our families. I used sleep-time to write personalized cards heralding our address change, decorated the house before work, insisted on baking cookies at night, and agonized over the perfect gifts to be bought, wrapped, and mailed to California relatives. As the day approached, my exhaustion took hold, but my festive enthusiasm didn’t.
I was convinced it would all be worthwhile watching our son’s delight opening presents. My husband tried to calm my growing to-do list with common sense which I chose to overlook. I went overboard decorating a house still void of furniture and hunting endlessly for the season’s must-have toys for our only child. Instead of a handful of gifts he had dozens. I visualized how thrilled he’d be with each, convincing myself it was only his delight I sought.
Christmas morning arrived and delight from him was not what I got. Instead of a joyful day (continue reading →)