I don't hate Christmas. I just don't like it.
There's too much pressure. Too much obligation and expectation that these days will be the most magical, the most happy, the most fulfilled. Stores are packed with impatient people. Long lines are everywhere. Who can possibly live up to this kind of anticipation?
Compounding the issue - I don't like the music. The secular stuff drives me bananas. Especially when you go shopping and especially at stores like Old Navy. I avoid them like the plague after the 1st of November. It's cringe-worthy. It's ghastly and nearly obscene. The monetary production value gained by mass producing worthless lyrics and songs that ultimately create squat. Bleh.
(I should point out here that I absolutely adore some Christmas songs. I could listen to these songs all year, but they are particularly poignant right now. This is the stuff of angels and adoration. This is the stuff that makes me yearn to be at the feet of the Savior.)
It grates on my nerves that this holiday keeps a constant emphasis on nostalgia. The ongoing promotion of 'days of old' mixed with the chaos of materialism. When in reality, this holiday has nothing to do with any of that. It's about faith. About worship. And about the turning of hearts to follow the Son of God.
I'm a bit of a Scrooge.
Until this year.
This year I did something different that ended up changing everything when it comes to Christmas.
Inspired by a neighbor who apparently does this every year as a gift to herself - I started reading James E. Talmage's Jesus the Christ the week before Thanksgiving. I knew this was going to be a challenge. Finish 800+ pages before Christmas? Good Heavens - when could I possibly do that? I ended up taking it everywhere - to carpool, for lunch, in the airport - any spare second I could find I was devouring more pages.
The best part about this process was that I didn't feel the change at the end - I felt everything shift in the beginning. There were so many introspective moments contemplating the Savior's life, his teachings and how to better align myself - as a mother, a wife, a woman - to draw closer to Him. These words were a joy to ponder - and to end my days with my last sleepy thought about Jesus Christ. It also led to a dramatic change in my daily prayers. Heart-felt worship brings a great deal of happiness. And this season has been one of my happiest.
While the other stuff - the obscene, ridiculous nonsense?
It didn't bother me so much this year.
I don't record this post to promote the idea that every person out there needs to read Talmage's Jesus The Christ in order to enjoy the real meaning of Christmas. Only that centering my focus completely on Him shifted my life for the better - regardless of the season. Away from the bitterness and into the light. Light, peace and gratitude.