Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is Your Joy Intact?

For a number of reasons, I have been uncharacteristically late with my Christmas preparations this year. In the past, this would have caused me extreme stress and even sleepless nights. I would have found myself up in the middle of the night, making lists in order to organize what needed to be accomplished.
Instead, I have taken the attitude that I can only accomplish what I can accomplish and anything that doesn't get done really doesn't matter. I mean, do I really need 12 dozen different varieties of treats baked and frozen in case company drops by over Christmas?
Do I need every decoration collected or handed down to me from the past three generations, on display?
I have discovered that Christmas traditions are only special if there is Joy in them, if they are fun to do, if they bring me and to others.

I have a massive Christmas village complete with an electric train. I love this village. It is a mixture of pieces my mother created to start me off, pieces I collected along the way and many pieces that my mom left to me from her own Christmas Village.

Although I love the village, my house is too small for it, and it became stressful to try and figure out how to carve out a location for it each, a few years ago, I decided not to put up the village. It was not fun any more, so I will wait, for a larger home, and I know it will have a wonderful spot that will seem as if it were created for my village.

Some things are harder to put aside, or the happiness they bring, out ways the work.
Things like shopping for gifts. Not a toy store full of gifts, but some special gifts for some special people.
My shopping has been forced into a small window of opportunity this year...much of it last night and today.
I would have preferred to have it done by now, to do it during the week, to avoid the weekend madness. I did not have that luxury this year...and I will admit, I had to do a little "self talking" in order not to panic...but I did not lose sleep either.

I got up early (well, early for me on the weekend), did a bit of Christmas baking, relaxed with my tea, showered and basically, psyched myself up for what I envisioned would be a mad, tiring, crazy day of shopping.
The traffic was bad...but Hey! It's Belleville!
I have shopped in Christmas traffic in Ottawa, many years...we really don't know what traffic is here.

The stores were busy, but not nearly as crazy as my imagination had conjured up.
As I shopped, I began to people watch. What I saw amazed and saddened me.
I began to look more closely, at more people.

I had some lunch, rested a moment and prepared myself for the one store I did not want to have to go to the second last Sat. before Christmas...WALMART!

Determined to make the best of it, I headed in. I continued to notice people around me...the crying children were hard to miss.
The checkout line was not nearly as long as I had expected.
As I waited my turn, I looked around me. What I saw that was so disturbing and left me with an ache in my heart was the faces of the shoppers. Everywhere I looked, I saw dark circles under eyes, worn down faces and demeanors. People looked beaten down, sad and somewhat vacant.
I tried really hard to find someone who looked like they were enjoying themselves...both in the mall and at Walmart. I could not, and I began to wonder if I looked as tired and worn out. I began to purposefully smile as I went about my hunt for the perfect gifts.

When I reached my check out girl, (who happened to be responsible for the front line), she was trying to make the best out of simply not having enough people to be able to open every check out. She explained to me how she had tried to get the last shift to stay later, but they could not.
We talked about her experiences with people that day, (one who had actually, physically grabbed her to try and make his point), and my observations.

That people seemed to have lost their Joy in Christmas...I expressed my views of "why bother if there is no fun in it", and that although, I would rather shop at another time, I am shopping today and possibly next Sat. too. Why would we expect to get through the cash of a super store in 5 minutes, 11 days before Christmas. That is just not you plan and prepare for it. Is it really worth, getting upset or even stressed over. Is it her fault that I had to wait until now, to do my shopping?

In case you have been wondering, we did not tie up the line with this conversation, I ended the conversation as she finished my transaction. She thanked me for our conversation...which felt really nice. Then she wished me a "Very Merry Christmas"...which practically sent me into orbit.

 I know there are a lot of legitimate stresses this time of year, I also know that there are losses and gaps that  CAN make it difficult, (but don't HAVE to)...I have felt them personally; but really, it all comes back to choices. Will I choose to allow these things to steal my Joy, or will I choose to focus on what really counts, what I love about the season, what I DO have, who I Do have and above all, the birth of the ONE who came for my Joy?

Will I choose to go around, so focused on what I have yet to accomplish, that I look miserable...or do what I need to with a smile and a kind word?
When all the gifts are unwrapped, the goodies eaten and the decorations pulled down...will I smile with Joy, knowing that my celebrations brought honor to the ONE who it is really all about anyway or simply sigh with relief?

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year....I don't want to miss a moment.


Shaun and Holly said...

Such a great post Jenny!

Maureen said...

Great post.
Thankyou for being joyful in all you do as you prepare for the celebration.
Working retail I love people who get it and are smiling regardless of the line-up.
I have just come home from a weekend of craziness and all weekend I just kept repeating. Let Go and Let God this truly kept a genuine smile on my face even in the midst of joyless screaming shoppers.
Bless you Jen for taking time to smile to all those on the front line.

Tamatha said...

Man do I wish I had read that at Christmas time!