If you’re a Santa, you love Christmas and plan for it all year long. You start shopping in January and are finished by August. You decorate multiple trees. In themes. You take the kids to the forest to cut down the tree. And it’s fun. The decorations go up in November. The freezer is already stocked with a turkey the size of a Volkswagen. As well as everyone’s fav sweets. You like pa-rum-pa-pum-pum, no matter how often you hear it. You hum along.
What about Scrooge? Christmas simply interrupts an otherwise productive work week. If it falls on a weekend, you’re not quite as grumpy. Every year you gamble that Jesus will return sometime before December so shopping early would be wasted. You buy gifts based on best-value-for-buck with little thought to will-they-ever-wear-this-in-public? You bring the Christmas tree home from the office, already decorated, stuffed into the trunk of your car, on December 23. You don’t hum along with The Little Drummer Boy because if you hear one more pa-rum-pa-pum-pum you will hurt someone.
Chances are you aren’t either of these extremes, but fall somewhere in between. I confess that I land closer to Scrooge than Santa. The last time we took our kids to the forest to cut down a tree — after driving an hour with two griping teens who did not want to spend their Saturday morning tramping through knee-deep snow — I pinned the disgruntled complainers against the side of the van and hissed, “We will have fun. Or I’ll kill you both!” The following year we decided to buy an artificial tree. They offered to pay for it.
It’s so easy to dislike Scrooge isn’t it? Scrooge can suck the happiness out of a decked hall faster than you can swill a swig of eggnog. We all have at least one Scrooge in the family and Christmas can make her slightly unpopular. I’m not saying Scrooges can’t change. I am living proof they can (ask your doctor about hormone replacement). But I am saying, don’t let Scrooge steal your joy. My family still enjoyed Christmas even when I found it a tiresome burden. And they stumbled into a way to make Christmas a lot more fun for me too. How did they do that?
- My husband took over the gift shopping the year our oldest daughter got married January third. His credit card doesn’t cool off until New Year’s. And he loves it. So do the kids because he buys them what they want. Price is barely a factor.
- My grown daughter took over the cooking and every year we have a different food theme. The year we went Hawaiian and had Kalua pig wrapped in banana leaves (ask your florist) still ranks 10 out of 10.
- My other grown daughter decorates November first and since she lives nearby, she invites us over so we can sip cocoa by the fireplace with a twinkly ambience from the tree lights.
- Our grown son is like his dad so he and his wife shop all year for funky, thoughtful gifts and their youthful enjoyment infects us all — even Scroogy old me.
I confess I still don’t hang the greens until mid-December and my entire stock of decorations can fit in one large box — unlike one friend who needs an outbuilding; she does eight themed trees. I only make two family favourites: butter tarts and poppycock. My Christmas letter is a photo postcard with point-form family news on the back. Because everyone pitches in, I can finally be true to my minimalist self and have the time and energy left to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
All these changes (plus HRT) pried opened this Scrooge’s stingy heart just enough for a little joy to seep in. I look forward to the holiday now that everyone’s Christmas happiness no longer rests on my shoulders alone. If you have a Scrooge in your family you might want to consider spreading her load over the entire gang and see if that helps. If you don’t get at least one grin or happy sigh from her, you may need to make her a doctor’s appointment….