Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas in the Land of Pinterest

I haven't written a blog post here since August! I wish I could say that it's entirely because I am so busy with Birth Boot Camp, but the truth is, I feel like the culture in birth/breastfeeding has changed so much, it's not really fun to write anymore. You can't say anything without being criticized for offending someone. It's exhausting and sad. It's easier to keep my mouth shut. Am I the only one who thinks that we've taken political correctness too far?

At any rate, I feel compelled to write this post. It has nothing to do with birth or breastfeeding or raising children. It's about Christmas. I've had so many thoughts this season, and I've been writing this in my head for days and having lots of conversations with people who feel the same way.

I'll be 44 next month, so a part of me wonders if I have these thoughts because I'm getting older or if our society has really changed so much over the last few years. I've concluded it's probably a little of both.

As Thanksgiving was approaching, I was in the throes of work, having just completed our first Birth Boot Camp DOULA training. I was dreading the holidays. I had several things to do for work before Jan 1 and was feeling super overwhelmed with the fact that the holidays were in the mix too. I found myself saying things like "The holidays are getting in the way of work," and "Can't we just not do the holidays this year?" I was only half joking.

For the first time in 19 years, my Christmas letter still isn't written and Christmas is less than a week away. Yes, I could have written the letter instead of writing this blog post, but again, I felt compelled to write this. Perhaps David will write the letter this year... Something I did that has been on my list for over two years? I wrote each of my children a letter this year. It took an entire afternoon, but I'm so glad I did that. I hope it'll be the most special thing they open this Christmas. The tree is up, the presents are wrapped, gifts are mailed, lights are on the house. It should be this simple, right?

The list is very long of the things I didn't do. I only donated one toy for Toys For Tots (instead of the 4 I was asked to donate), I didn't participate in the Angel Tree at church, I didn't do the cookie exchange, I only gave 2 teacher gifts, and I only gave money to one bell ringer outside the store. I haven't attended any Christmas musical programs or gone to any Christmas parties (other than the one at church that I helped organize). These are all wonderful things to participate in, there's just too many of them. The list is longer of things I didn't do that what I did do.

I'm not really one for guilt, and I actually don't feel guilty for not doing these things. To me, if feels like the holidays are on steroids now compared to what they used to be, even a few years ago. I blame Pinterest. Before all the Pinterest lovers get up in arms, the reason I do not have an account is because I know I would love it. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not good with moderation. I would go overboard, big time. I would be forced to do the things there because I wouldn't be able to get them out of my head. It would be the world's biggest time suck. Not just the actual time spent there, but then the time creating. There are so many ideas that are quite amazing. With good intentions, people (mostly women) want to make and do and participate in all these amazing things, but time just doesn't allow it. Many women I've talked to are overwhelmed with guilty feelings over not being able to do it all. And then when they actually do it all, they are exhausted and cranky, as are their families.

If everything else stopped during the holidays, maybe we could pull if off. But we still have to work, make dinner, clean the house, do homework, make lunches, do carpool, etc. But we throw all this extra stuff on top of it and we have a bunch of people walking around saying "I can't wait till Christmas is over!" People are grumpy and it's supposed to be the happiest time of the year!

Did you ever read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham? It was made into a movie called Christmas with the Kranks with Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. I read the book when it first came out and laughed till I cried. I thought it was so entertaining. The message behind it, I'm seeing now, was much more serious than what I originally thought. Even if you want to, you really can't get off this ride. The pressure is immense to not be the only one on the street that doesn't put up Christmas lights. I can't imagine what will happen if I don't send out my letter this year! If you haven't read the book or watched the movie, you should. I'd say more about it, but I don't want to spoil it for you. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

As long as I can remember, people have talked about not taking "Christ" out of "Christmas", reminding us that He is the "reason for the season". And yet, we've created all these distractions that truly take us away from remembering Him. My church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, launched a video campaign right after Thanksgiving and I haven't been able to get it out of my head - and heart. #SharetheGift. The people in the video are busy with preparations for Christmas, shopping, fighting a cold, standing in long lines, addressing envelopes, etc., but as the video goes on, things slow down as we are reminded of the birth of our Savior and the peace that He brought to the Earth.



As people around you are not participating in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, maybe they are not Scrooge or the Grinch after all. Perhaps they are trying to do the simple things, staying focused on their family and actually enjoying the season because they have not over-extended themselves. I have found, as I watch this video over and over, I feel my Savior's love, am more able to enjoy this Christmas season, and put aside the things that don't really matter.

Merry Christmas to each of you.