Christmas starts in July. Well, it does according to Costco. I’ve noticed subtle hints of the holidays for months now. Today is December 1st, and I’m already growing weary of all the store’s Christmas on steroids policy. I walked into Home Goods the other day, and promptly walked out. It looked like Christmas had thrown up all over the store. Every where I looked there were tacky silk centerpieces, hosed down with copious amounts of glitter. It’s all too much too soon.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Scrouge. We pulled out and dusted off those Christmas boxes the day after Thanksgiving, like we do every year. We’ve spent days dashing around hanging ornaments, placing candles, carefully arranging nativity sets, repairing broken decorations and stringing lights all over the exterior of the house. Our inflatable Santa Claus piloting his airplane is going strong on the grass. The life sized, light up lawn angel is aglow with lights. My daughter and I even braved Black Friday for a few hours; which, in case you’re wondering, is a total sham.imageimageimageimageimage Somewhere between Michael’s and Walmart, I began wondering…at what point did Jesus Christ’s birth become this launching point for massive materialism? As I steered my wobbly plastic cart, veering in and out of brightly dressed clumps of shoppers and carefully stacked holiday hoopla, that thought shamed me. I am sad to say that I too, have hopped on the frenzied race to the December 25th finish  line. Yesterday in church, my mind wandered to my growing list of things to do:

  • find a silver candle
  • get extension cords
  • get stuff for Dude launch (Dude is our da** Elf on the Shelf)
  • get more outdoor lights

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    Dude kicks off the month with a bang. After that, he’s low pro. Kids are lucky if he remembers to fly back to the North Pole at night.

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Clark himself.

I do not know what the perfect solution is. How do I balance the reason for the season with all the other seasonal checklists? How do I strike an ideal balance? I start feeling jumpy and claustrophobic when I ponder all that needs to be accomplished for school, family and friends this month. Plus, I’ve got two kids with birthdays this month too. Man, that was poor planning on our part. Sheesh. In our feeble defense, one baby arrived five weeks earlier than expected. Thanks a lot, kiddo. It can all get to be way too much. Sometimes I feel like I might loose it, like Clark Griswald.

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny ****ing Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white *** down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of ******** this side of the nuthouse. -Clark Griswald, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

I try to teach my kids about giving. About being like Christ. Selfless. This time of year, we usually adopt a child in need, donate to familes in need, mail shoe boxes of small gifts to other countries, and pray for others. Yet, I’m not sure that is enough. I hope to instill in my children that giving is better than receiving. I hope they understand that we celebrate Christmas because a baby named Jesus was born. I hope that I am doing it right. I hope. image