Friday, December 02, 2011

Don't get Scrooged

I have such fond memories of Christmas. But I have bad ones. I'm sure you do too. What Memories dictate how you're going to spend the season?
Would you agree that what you put in the season is what you get out of it?
So, how do you see Christmas?
Do you start the holiday season filled with energy and excitement? And finish feeling breathless and zapped of strength?
Do you face Christmas with the anticipation of a child, or with trepidation? Even dread?
Maybe you find yourself hoping that you get something wonderful for Christmas, something you waited for all year. And it doesn't have to be tangible.
Thinking of Christmas' past, how did you feel when they were over? Wonderful? Drained?
Are you expecting a dismal outcome this year? Or a joyous one?
Are you allowing yourself to get Scrooged out before the glorious holiday season?
Here are a few steps we can take to make sure we don't get Scrooged.
First, you all know who Scrooge is… the beloved Dicken's character from Christmas Carol whose story has warmed our hearts through the years.  He was so kind and thoughtful. The character you love to almost hate. Kind of like the Grinch.
You can put whatever character you want in the title.
Don't get Scrooged. Don't get Grinched.
But the fact remains, while Scrooge and Grinch are characters, there are real people like them walking the streets today. People who act like their only joy in life is to steal it from others. They're rude, selfish, heart-hearted and at times downright cruel. They'd steal your Christmas Spirit if you let them.
And that Scrooge could be me. Maybe even you.
We would rarely consider ourselves Scrooges and we hope we're not in the business of stripping Christmas joy.
Perhaps we don't do it on such a grand theatrical scale. And most times no one knows we're feeling like the Grinch. But God does. Some of you may be groaning now. Believe me I know how you feel. Because if we're honest, we know we have times when we're at our worst.
There are times, though I hate to admit, especially around Christmas when I'm supposed to be wearing a face of joy and offering good cheer, that those feelings begin to strip away my happy Christmas mask.

Maybe your mask is fraying a bit too.

See if you can find yourself in any of the following.
Bubbly Christmas Spirit (you know the one you want to Strangle) dressed in colorful Christmas sweater with ornament earrings…  "Christmastime. I love Christmas. It's the greatest time of the year."
Sarcastic Modern Day Scrooge -- "Great? Yeah… well for some of us it's more like the time when the whole world is trying to thin our pocketbooks.  And our nerves are unraveling."
BCS turning up Christmas back ground music to blow my eardrums.  "Oh but Christmas is such a wonderful time. It's a time of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men."
Modern Day Scrooge -- "Unless that person happens to cut me off on the street. I mean just the other day at the mall, someone took the parking spot I'd been waiting for. Why should I be peaceful about that. And goodwill.  Hmmph, I'll give them goodwill and a good one finger wave to go along with it."
"But think about all you've gotten for Christmas, think about how wonderful it is to give. Think about the gift God gave when he sent his son."
"Don't lecture me on giving. I am the queen of giving. For what good it's done me. I sent out lovely Christmas Cards last year, and gave wonderful, extravagant and well thought out gifts. Did anyone return the favor. Humbug. And don't get me started on charities or needy people. They're more like leeches this time of year. When is enough… enough? Besides, I have my own family to care for and things are tight this year."
BCS-- (Spraying Christmas scent about the room. Doing a few tra-la-las and twirls.) "But Christmas is a time for Joy to the World. People's hearts and lives should reflect that joy and cheerfulness. At least this time of the year."
"Excuse me? Okay so some people are joyous over Christmas, and maybe there is some cheer in the air. But quite frankly, I'm too busy to be joyful or cheerful. I'm pulled apart by rehearsals and shopping and baking and parties and and… try pulling my schedule then come back and tell me about joy and cheerfulness"
BCS-- flopping a big photo album on the table before me. "Christmas is a time for family and memories.
(Snorting) Yeah Right?  I love the hassle of those big family gatherings. The ones that nearly end up in a brawl on the front lawn.  And if it's at my house well that's more that I have to do. Everything has to be spotless and just so so. And no matter how hard I try someone will complain. Or find fault.

And if it's at someone else's house then I have to load up all the my things and spend hours in the hall traveling to get there. Where I usually end up sleeping on the floor in a room devoid of privacy. Family, Ha, by the time I've spent one day with them I've had enough memories to last a life time. Have you met my family? We're talking togetherness overload.
Christmas is a glorious time of lights and presents and traditions
Yeah well… we could talk for days about traditions (all those things we do because the family did it for years and we can't stand it.) But let's talk about lights. I tried for one of those picture perfect yards the one's that get pictured in the paper and have people driving by oohing and ahhing.
I hung the lights, on the house, across the yard. Put up some cute little lawn characters to wave at the lookey-loos. And put out a Nativity.
It was magnificent, pretty good if I have to say so myself. Then one of those stupid bulbs went out and I spent hours trying to the culprit. A few strands are dead now, someone stole a lawn ornament and a dog hiked his leg on baby Jesus.
I have more chance of a drive by shootings than a visit from seekers of light.
And how about those presents, huh? I get them wrapped and under the tree just so my children can shake them and tear off the paper before Christmas. And if  it's not the children, it's the dogs. I'd hang up a sign saying these are not fire hydrants or chew toys, but I doubt the dogs would understand ( the tree isn't even red).

Speaking of trees. I trudged through mountains of snow, through the cold, up the hill both ways, lugging a saw and hot chocolate, on what became a forgettable family outing. We looked all over and found nothing but a scrawny tree. Charlie Brown had a better one. Then I had pine needles everywhere for the next month.

But what about the love of Christmas. God loved us so much he sent his son for us. Christmas should remind us to share that love.
Well sure Christ is all loving and all caring. But he has the power to be that way. I'm only human. I've found that most people just want to use me. They act all nice. Tell me we'll can be best buds. When what they really want if for me to remember them when I send out my gifts or throw a party. They certainly don't keep in touch the rest of the year. I have hard time loving those kinds of people. They  grate on my nerves.
If you ask me… Christmas is just a farce. A time for merchandiser to make money. Maybe that rude, fat, fowl smelling excuse for a Santa who yelled at my children… is the embodiment of my Christmas.
Maybe he's the embodiment of yours…
Do you ever get so caught up trying to make Christmas come alive… you kill it?
What is Christmas? What are you really celebrating?
When you say Christmas… what comes to mind? A special gift or two? A scent? A dream? Many memories of Christmas haunt us. Some good. Some bad.
Whether we want to admit it or not… memories dictate, in some measure, how we celebrate Christmas now. Hopefully, they won't all be Scrooge moments that pull us away from the joy. Hopefully, we won't have visits from Ghosts. 'Cause I'd freak.
Hopefully our insights and memories will pull us back from Scroogedom and remind us why Christmas is a wonderful time of year and chastise us for becoming so hard-hearted.
Is there wonderment in Christmas? Do you see Christmas through the eyes of child? Or has it been distorted by life and the years?
Do you get goose-bumps when you hear that Santa is coming? Delight and excitement from staring at the gifts under the tree? Do you feel the reverence of a child in a manger?
Some of us have so many trappings, so many distorted feelings of Christmas we've lost sight of how beautiful the season is.
How simple the Christmas story and season really are.  The remedy for a hectic holiday is to remember the reason for the Season and whose birthday we're celebrating. Share the truth of Christmas. You can impact someone's life this year. Maybe even your own.
Seeking  Immanuel  Makes  Peace  Last  Eternally

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.

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