I used to imagine how Christmastime would be when I had my own family. I envisioned my kids decorating freshly baked cookies at the table. My husband would affectionately embrace me as I prepared my best dish to take to the family gathering. Joy filled the entire home.
Then something inevitable happened: Life. I got married in my senior year of college and was already a mother of two. So, I figured marrying the father of my second child was a better option than being a single mother. I didn’t want to do life alone. But as time passed, alone is exactly how I spent much of my married life.
I placed my desires aside to ensure I was the best mother and wife I could be—or so I thought. I neglected even the notion of doing things that would bring me enjoyment because, at that time, I thought it was selfish. My identity was completely lost, and I was empty. It was only after I walked away with my three children that I learned my journey to a life of joy began with having inner peace.
So, a few years ago, I made the decision to start putting up my Christmas tree on or around the third of September, my birthday. You may be thinking, What do you mean? Christmas is in December, and a Christmas tree should not be put up before Thanksgiving! The time to share with those we love—or with those who need to be shown love—should last much longer if you ask me. So, I bring in my tree and decorate it while listening to Christmas music as a gift to myself.
Initially, I would listen to Christmas music at the height of summertime. As time progressed, I wanted more of what I felt during the holiday. And what better way to feel like Christmastime is here than to get out the tree? One of my favorite retailers begins adorning aisles in early summer with gift ideas and decorations of garland, ornaments, and more. By September, the decor is forty to fifty percent off! I think it’s because people should be in the spirit by then. It just makes sense!
Recently a friend called and noticed what I was playing in the background. She asked if I was OK, and I laughed knowing why she had asked. She wanted to know if there was something wrong with me because it was the end of August, and I was listening to Christmas music. It’s just so cheerful! If I can experience jolts of happiness by listening to it, then why not? Even if people laugh at my expense or shake their heads in disbelief because I am going against a societal norm, I am OK with that.
I just have more time to feel in the spirit of the season of giving, which I love to do. I begin purchasing gifts the year before—even if I have not identified the recipients of the presents. I had so many leftover last year that I had to buy an additional storage bin. I pray that I can give to more people each year than I did the prior year.
For most of the people at work, I give Christmas cards with candy. I like to uniquely decorate each card as if it’s an expertly wrapped gift. I attach the candy to the card after I’ve carefully placed it inside wrapping paper cut to appear as one treat. For those with whom I interact more personally, I put in a little extra thought. I remember small details from past conversations and turn them into gifts that let them know, “I was listening to you and what you shared with me matters.”
Creating cards or finding unique economical gifts may take months, but it is well worth my time. People are dealing with individual cares and issues in their lives, and you never know how a beautifully decorated card or gift may uplift their spirits or even change their lives. My goal in giving is to figure out how to bless another person’s life. I ask myself, How can I make her life a little easier? How can this gift bring a smile to one who has endured such heaviness? How can this gift encourage him to press on a bit longer?
Kind words tenderly placed together in a card, or gifting cozy socks, a small bottle of wine, or a good book, are ways to help brighten someone’s day. Even if I don’t give a tangible gift, offering a kind word or smile to a stranger, expressing gratitude to the ones who pick up our trash, or offering prayer to someone, these are all wonderful ways to show you care.
Family and friends have called me crazy more times than I can count. They have yet to get on board, but it makes no difference to me. I find a thrill in giving that I can find nowhere else. I’m hopeful that a trend of starting the season earlier will bring more peace on earth.
So, even if I have to feel it alone, Christmas starts in my home in September!
What are some things that bring you joy?Leave a Comment