Sunday, December 28, 2014

Confession # 71 - "Let it Go!"

Year after year the holidays come and the holidays go.  Every year I stress, worry and get depressed thinking of what family drama to anticipate.  I stress over hosting or not, I stress if I've been fair and generous enough with gift giving.  I stress making sure my wrapping paper matches our Christmas decor.  For me the holidays are usually a time to stress.

Last Christmas I blogged "Dreaming of a White Christmas".  A video confession of all that I do "wrong" at the holidays and how I fail to focus on Christ every year. This year with the need to finally have a "White Christmas", the Lord saw fit to use my situation to bring about some much needed changes in my holiday festivities.  Changes that can only come from a Christ-centered relationship.

Although I confess, I did spend more than I had, and racked up some debt, this year has been radically different.  First I need to take you back a year.  Last year I decided to stand up for myself and have a holiday I wanted.   I wanted to go to church on Christmas Eve with my family and then host the holiday at my home with the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes.  Sadly, my family, being less than accepting of my choices, refused to join.  My mom refers to them as "her" holidays and so she insisted she host and that we be there at a time that would make it impossible for us to attend church service.  Stubbornly rather than give in, I chose to host the holidays for friends instead and that included attending church.  Although, it may have killed me in terms of stress and energy, I was determined NOT to give in and stand up for the fact that mom doesn't own the holidays.


Do you have relatives like this too?  They have to be the one who does it all, for whatever reason.  I could probably speculate many reasons why, from wanting to be in the comfort of their own home to the martyrdom of all the work it takes.  Whatever the reason, they take over.  

And I also decided that we were not traveling to relatives for Christmas either; much to the chagrin of my father-in-law.  Years past we would make a visit a week long Christmas vacation.  I can't explain why but ever since we had a child I don't want to be in someone else's home on Christmas morning.  I want to be at  home.  We started some traditions and I like to stick to them.  This did not please my husband's family, and understandably so, but I felt we needed to be more of a family, the three of us.  Needless to say that although last year we had a "nice" Christmas and enjoyed the company of our friends, there was something missing.  I complain and get upset at all the baloney family puts us through but when I don't have their company I feel empty.

What I failed to realize is what Christmas means to grandparents.  Perhaps they are clinging to Christmases gone by with us as the little ones.  Maybe they're uncertain of their time left on the earth and want to spend as many moments enjoying precious moments with their children and grandchildren.  So this year, I didn't give it a second thought, of course we would spend Christmas with family, but I vowed we were going to do what was best for our family.  First, I threw out the window the desire to host.  Why fight with mom?  If she wants to host Christmas Eve then so be it.  Additionally my friend suggested that we spend Christmas morning home then drive to see our relatives out of town.  Why didn't I think of this sooner?  So the plan was in place, Christmas Eve we would go to church, then on to moms for dinner and presents and the next morning wake up in our own home to a Santa scavenger hunt followed by a yummy homemade breakfast then a four hour drive to the cabin in the woods.  Hooray!

But we weren't in the clear yet.  Oh no one more wrench was thrown into the works for good measure.  Mom wasn't happy with the fact that we wouldn't be there until 7 pm because of church and she got angry.  The next day she called me to let me know that dinner was starting at 5 pm and they would just go ahead and eat without us and save us a plate.  She said that if they waited until 7 then the kids wouldn't get to open presents until midnight.  Boy did that upset me!  As a Christian in a family that isn't accepting of my choice to put God first, I usually feel like an outsider, but even more so at the mention of eating alone on Christmas Eve.  And although I felt the anger and emotion welling up inside of me and a desperation to let her know how I felt, I simply said, "Okay" and ended the phone call.  I knew this was not the time to have that discussion.

After the call I was heartbroken.  Desperately, through anger and tears, I tried to figure out an alternative celebration, but not only was this Dec 23 and I had just slaved making an octopus salad and baked a coconut cake, but it was also not what I wanted.  I wanted to be with them.  After all my dad's health hasn't been well this year.  The chemo and radiation treatments have really taken a toll on him and frankly, I don't know how many Christmases we have left together.  Not to mention that two years ago we lost grandpa and grandma is 87 with failing health so all this got me thinking, it's just not worth it, I'm letting go.  Let it go, let it go the Holidays will be what they are...  Can you hear Elsa singing?  LOL!

So, we went to church at 5 and got to mom's just before 7 and ate alone.  At first I was feeling anxiety
but the Holy Spirit quickly took over, and spoke to my heart, by way of the movie Frozen.  I LET IT GO!  I decided to relax and with the help of  a single glass of white wine I was able to enjoy the evening.  I laughed at everything,  especially when my 18 month old niece climbed inside my daughter's brand new American Girl camper.  God is so good!  The kids opened their gifts together and the joy I got from the moment my daughter ran over and hugged my mom for the gift she gave was precious.  Mom had tears in her eyes..

Christmas morning we woke my daughter early who, much to my delight, wished Jesus a Happy Birthday, and as planned, we had our scavenger hunt, opened gifts, ate breakfast and hit the road to be at the cabin in time for a wonderful Christmas dinner with the in-laws.  This morning I woke to watching a bear with her cubs just outside my bedroom window and now here I sit out on the screened porch enjoying the cool breeze and typing away.

God had blessed me tremendously because I chose to put Him first and not loose my cool with my family.  This has been the best Christmas of my adult life.  It wasn't about the presents, the gift wrap, the cooking or hosting it was about celebrating God and being with our crazy, infuriating and absolutely wonderful family.  Finally!

Finally, I'm discovering the truth behind the saying, "You can't change others, you can only change how you react to them."  It changes the entire outcome of your experience.  You have the power to make it a good one or a bad one.  Ladies, if you are still suffering through family baloney at Christmastime, know that you are not alone.  But remember, whenever you make God your priority, He works it all out.  Let it Go!

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you Lord for giving me the ability to "Let it Go" this year and enjoy you and my family.  I pray each and every Christmas from here on out gets better and better.  Lord I pray for my sisters-in-Christ who deal with the same Christmas struggles that I do.  Father bless them with the ability to "Let it Go" and give them a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  In Jesus' precious name I pray.  AMEN.


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