Giving What I Need

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Giving What I Need

Prepare to hear a blasphemous, un-American confession:  I don’t care about Christmas anymore.  God knows I used to, and I have the ornaments, lights, and Christmas cookie recipes to prove it.

So what happened to me? Did someone I love die, and I’m still in grief?  Yeah, something died, alright.  The celebration in Christmas.  All the rah-rah, happy-happy, be of good
cheer.  I’m not jaded because of  commercialism these days, though I hate it.  I am seriously pissed that stores are putting up Christmas things two weeks before  Halloween.  What’s next? Santa on the shelf before Labor Day?

Over the last few years, I’ve tried to be a “good” Christian, and focus on the “Christ” in Christmas.  See the baby Jesus in the manger as significant.  I mean, really – I wouldn’t be a Christian today if Jesus hadn’t come to earth, right?  So what the hell is wrong with me? What is wrong for me?

Do I have to have a reason except that Christmas depresses me now?  I’m not going to lie to you and make one up.  Didn’t it always piss you off when you were a child and you asked your parents why you had to do such-and-such and they said, “Because I said so”?

Why don’t I care about Christmas anymore?  Because I don’t.  I’m not trying to be a kill-joy, but Christmas is a kill-Joy.  It kills me to pretend that everything is lovely, while Christmas only depresses me. I know so many people who tell me they just LOVE Christmas and it’s their favorite time of year.  Do you know when that was true for me?  When I was a kid and when my kids were little.  If I had really looked closely when my children were pre-schoolers and in elementary school, I might have noticed that I cared about Christmas for them, not because it was important for me.

So what do I do at this time of year?  Pretend.  Tell people what they expect to hear.  But here’s what is real, what does matter:  that my adult children get what they want, and I’m NOT talking about their list for Santa.  I can’t afford that any more.  So what do they want from me?  What do I really want for Christmas?  Read on.

Giving What I Need

I don’t care about Christmas anymore.
It seems so sad and empty,
something to do and be done with.
I refuse to just “buy something” for the people I love.
There is a special satisfaction in finding a gift
perfect for a precious someone,
and I would be lynched if I didn’t fill
my tall kids’ stockings with silly dollar store toys and kiddy candy
appropriate only for six-year-olds.
I really like that part,
but the carols, trees and seasonal scenes
have lost me, left me out to lunch.

To all the people glowing with delight,
asking if my shopping is complete
then interrupting with their answer
before hearing mine,
I just smile and give the expected response:
“Yes.  Merry Christmas.”
What else is there to say that’s socially acceptable?

I just buried my dog with stomach cancer,
which doesn’t help, but that’s not what’s wrong.
The lights at night are pretty but pointless,
poinsettias, packages,
pain my hurting heart can’t celebrate,
and I don’t even miss it,
but I don’t have to explain this to you.

When you rode into Jerusalem
and the crowds welcomed you with joy,
I doubt that happiness filled your heart.
Grief and dread were primary
because you knew what was coming,
but I bet you smiled and waved anyway
because you loved them.
It was more important
to give them what they wanted
instead of what you did.

Is that the perfect gift I can give this year
to the people I care about?
What they want from me isn’t my depression.
Help me give the gift you gave,
pocketing your needs to feed the hearts of others,
celebrating their joy.
So my candle isn’t lit;
I can still light up their faces
with traditions that matter to them.

But I’m sick of faking it;
continuing will only make things worse.
I can’t do this by myself.
Grant me the gumption
to feel for real what they need
and act on it with faith
that you will meet my needs, too.


About the Author:

I never have found a box that fits me, so I follow Jesus into the wild. My husband, Bud, and I are two life-long hippies, parents of four grown children, and live in Bartlett, TN, with six cats, two dogs, and no TV. I am a voracious reader and am passionate about prison ministry. I am also an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression.

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