On Sunday evening, our family participated in a tradition that I love because it helps me remember what I want my Christmas season to really be. We watched The First Presidency Christmas Devotional, which is an hour-long program of music and speeches presented by my church. It was lovely this year, full of gentle humor, reminders about what is important and several fun literary references. If you're curious and want a quiet, music-filled hour of pure Christmas spirit, here is the link to the entire thing. This year, the most memorable phrase for me came from Thomas S. Monson, the President of our church, when he lovingly and kindly admonished us to let the season be a time of, among other things, "Discarding the Meaningless." I have taken that to heart both literally and metaphorically and the effort has already been a good thing.
I love all the parts of Christmas, from the music to the gifts to the decorations. I truly enjoy it. I just really, really want to make sure that I'm not running around like a chicken with my head cut off to impress people (I include my kids on the list of people I might be trying to impress) or to checklist that I did something based on what others think. Let's face it, no amount of shopping or sending of cards by some magical date will change who I am or what my pals think of me. I want to do whatever I do because I'm motivated by love and what I truly believe about the season. But, because I usually care a LOT about what other people think, I do a LOT of running around and I'm always in the process of getting better at letting things go. As the years have gone by, I've gradually been able to simplify some of the things that either society or the voice in my head tell me are necessary, but it is still not easy. I still compare myself to other people and usually give myself the short end of the stick, and there's the rub. I want to get rid of all the parts of Christmas that feel to me like a contest I can never win. Mostly because I feel my heart shrink a tiny bit from the ones who do "win." I want to NOT feel a little stab of something (is it jealousy? derision? I'm not sure) when others do amazing, beautiful things to celebrate the season that I will never duplicate. I love them a tiny little bit less in that moment because I feel like I lost that contest (the one I made up in my head). It just breaks my heart when I have to recover from feelings like that about people that I love.
And so I will continue to try and discard the meaningless. It doesn't matter what those things are, so I'm not going to list them here, because some things that are "meaningless" for me are incredibly important to others. If a tradition or practice truly brings you joy, then it is a good thing. Even if it causes a little stress. Sometimes even that price is not too high to pay. I just want to be aware of when it does become too costly.