My Love-Hate Relationship With Christmas

Christmas: It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so the song goes. When I hear the songs, see the lights, or drink my Peppermint Mocha, yeah, I think it is.

Then I think of all the shot weekends because of multiple parties I am obligated to go to, and the smiling face I have to put on in the crowds of people.

I love being with my extended family on both sides, or opening stockings on Christmas morning.

I hate living up to other people’s expectations for Christmas, and my fear that I’ll fail.

I love the few extra days off from work and the chance to get caught up on stuff at home.

I hate the pressure of buying gifts, spending at the end of the year when I have the least amount of money, and worrying that I might have forgotten someone, or that they’ll think poorly of me because they spent twice as much on me as I spent on them.

I love all the baked goods and making raviolis.

I hate worrying about whether or not I can say Merry Christmas in public.

I love Christmas decorations, but hate the amount that we have to put up and put away. It really is time to get rid of at least half of them.

My favorite parts are going to church on Christmas Eve, celebrating Advent with my family, and reading The Night Before Christmas out loud before going to bed. Except we still have the stockings to stuff and yet a few more presents to wrap.

But I hate the narcissism of Christmas, when the gifts become all about what I get, or making sure that my gifts to others aren’t the least, or just entering the malls and the immense pressure to buy, buy, buy.

Sometimes I just wish Christmas was no more a holiday than Easter, and all we did was celebrate the birth of Jesus.

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A Life Well Lived

Today looks like it will be my friend Norm’s last day. As I wait for the news I dread, I am thinking about him and what he has meant to all who know him.

Norm is not successful based on our culture’s terms. He has never written a best-seller, he is not wealthy, he is not a political power, and he’s never been a celebrity.

Norm is far more successful than our culture’s terms. He knows how to love.

You do not have to compete with anyone or anything to be loved by Norm. He is a man who shares his love and his compassion generously, untempered. You do not have to be part of his family to be loved by Norm; you only have to meet him.

When he passes, he will leave behind a far greater legacy than a popular book, a large donation, a great law, or a Super Bowl title. He will leave behind a family, friends, and acquaintances who were fortunate enough to have learned how to better love others.

That is the kind of love that could truly change the world.