Why? Well, since you asked...
Usually, I am so wrapped up (pardon the pun) in trying to make the holiday "perfect" on the outside that I end up miserable on the inside...
I sit here feeling sorry for myself that I don't have a huge family coming over, a house busting at the seams with uncles, cousins, grandparents, and all of that...
I feel anxious waiting for the credit card bills to arrive, wondering how I will once again juggle paying our regular bills in addition to the debt we accrued trying to make magic out of worldly things like the newest video game or nice tennis shoes.
I feel lonely because from where I sit, everyone else I know has picture perfect Christmases resembling a Norman Rockwell painting.
I feel exhausted from the hours I spend cooking, cleaning, arranging, decorating, rearranging, etc... you get the picture. Maybe you even know what I mean because you do the same thing.
This year, something is different inside of me.
I honestly don't care that the bins and bins and bins of Christmas paraphenalia haven't been laid out over every square inch of our house. Sure, I've decorated our tree and I put out the ceramic Christmas village that Daddy H and I bought at Walmart the first Christmas we were married and I've got a special place for the snowman that my dad's mom made oh-so-many years ago. I haven't spent hours stressing out though. I've been able to sit back and enjoy the season this year.
I'm totally okay with the fact that the kiddos aren't getting new iPads, laptops or televisions or anything else ridiculous that they asked Santa for because we don't have the money for those things. Almost all of our presents are wrapped if for no other reason than there just aren't as many as there have been in previous years. That's not to say that kiddos aren't going to have a great Christmas, it's that Mama H won't lose night after night of sleep wondering and worrying how she'll pay for it all come January.
I don't have a kitchen full of excess food that will inevitably go to waste because I've finally learned that just because I bake/cook, doesn't mean people will magically appear at my doorstep to eat it. I've made a few of the kiddos' and Daddy H's favorites (and mine, too) and I'm satisfied with that. We've got everything we could ever want/need to eat and I realize that's more than most people in this world can say on any given day.
Christmas is so real to me this year.
The true meaning of Christmas.
"Jesus is the reason for the season."
People say this every year.
You see it on signs outside of churches.
You see people on television claiming to be offended by the "religious" nature of this holiday. I've always believed it, but I haven't lived it. I've never doubted that Jesus was the son of God and that He was born on Christmas, but I also never truly understood what that actually meant. I didn't walk the walk or talk the talk. I didn't "get" it.
All these years, I didn't get it.
This year is different.
There are so many Christmas songs that I've heard on the radio, the ones I've sung since I was a child. The ones whose lyrics are so familiar, that for many years, I sang right along with them, not hearing what was being sung, just singing along robotically, going through the motions just like I was when decorating my house, cooking holiday favorites, or shopping for the newest "must-have" toy for hours on end. Making a list of what needed to be done since it was December, and ticking away at the list, hoping that if I did it perfectly enough, the emptiness in my heart would disappear. If only I had the perfect tree, a full house of friends and family, an endless supply of money, my heart would finally feel peace.
Of course, that didn't work. Year after year, I tried to make it work, convinced that if I would just work harder, shop longer, cook more, then my heart would be happy.
This year, however, the lyrics to some of the oldest songs have stopped me in my tracks. Other, newer Christmas songs have brought me to tears as I listen and understand what is being said. I don't know how to describe it other than to say that I've found myself fighting the urge to scream out loud to the world:
"I FINALLY GET IT!!"
" I really, really GET IT!!!"
God sent his Son to save me.
To save each of us.
Even though we weren't worthy of being saved.
This is the reason my heart is so full this year.
I am not sad.
Peace and happiness fill the empty places within me.
Grateful doesn't even begin
to describe how I feel this Christmas.
There is no other gift
I could ever imagine
that could even come close
to comparing to the
Greatest Gift of All:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.