Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Counting Down to Christmas

As the countdown to Christmas day continues, some are in the clutches of panic. “Two weeks!” exclaimed a lady to a friend, as they were waiting in line at a food kiosk in the local mall to grab a quick bite between one purchase and the other, “all I have is two weeks. How can I get everything done, in such little time?”

It wasn’t the words, as much as her shrill, nervous tone of voice that caught my attention. She was indeed frazzled. Although she was attempting to make small talk with her friend, describing her lengthy list of chores, she continued snapping at her two small children and darting her eyes back and forth as if ready to run for her life. Similarly, I’ve heard others referring to Christmas as something they couldn’t wait to pass, as if they were talking about a flu virus. Is this what Christmas has become, a dreaded list of chores?

Christmas is a time to love, to spread cheer and connect to others; it is a time of inner rebirth and renewal of the self, but for many it’s one of the most stressful times of the year. We have become so consumed with the importance of appearance and glitter that we are concerned of the way others will judge us if we can’t keep up with our “lists”. Sometimes, we just need to sit back and take a deep breath to see that things are not as overwhelming as they seem; if we don’t get everything done perfectly, life will continue, the sun will continue to rise and set, and all will still be okay.

Realistically, everyone could shop for all they need in one day. Most chain stores and malls carry a plethora of items, aimed at pleasing everybody. Something can always be found, even at the last minute. What truly matters in the gift giving business is the fact that we have taken the time to want to honor those we love with a small token which doesn’t necessarily need to match something on their wish list. Gift cards can be our friends, too. Those who don’t have the financial availability to shop much can probably afford one trip to a craft store to buy paper and a couple of markers; make nice, homemade, individualized cards, including a hand-written coupon for the type of personal help our loved ones might need.

Cooking is another puzzle I can’t find the pieces for; I hear people, two weeks ahead of Christmas, say the need to start cooking; what possibly can they have to cook that takes so long? Grandma will not be rolling in her grave if we aren’t baking her special sausage rolls recipe this year.

Christmas shouldn’t be about getting anxious over things that truly don’t reflect the spirit of the season. It is more important to smile and be kind to a stranger, than it is to stress over societal impositions. Let love be the main course, the rest is only garnish.

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