I was seven and I was very aware of some things going on in our home.
I knew that we were very poor, not destitute, but only one missed day of work from it.
I knew that my dad was worthless in the fiscal department, making him my Momma’s third child.
And I knew that Christmas was stressing my momma out.
I watched her whole demeanor change shortly after Thanksgiving. She went from being okay to being depressed. Her “can-do” attitude transformed to the “give-up” attitude. And at seven years old, I knew why: She had no idea how she was going to afford presents for my sister and I. She was going over her bills in her mind thinking of which one she could skip, even though she knew the snowball effect from it would devastate the delicate ecosystem of “getting by” that she had designed. She didn’t have credit. Daddy had ruined that for her long ago…right along with her pride. She couldn’t ask her family for help either because they all needed the same. So, there she was, depressed, working her fingers to the bone, wondering how the hell she was gonna give her little girls something for Christmas. And as much as she tried to pretend everything was okay and as much as she tried to hide her tears….I knew.
And as much as she had tried to redirect the true meaning of Christmas back to the priceless birth of Jesus, her family had already bought into the secular aspect of it.
Three days ago, I stood in a store in front of a lady, waiting for her to ask my friend and I, “can I help you?”, but she couldn’t put her phone down long enough to bother. I stared at her with my aggravated eyes, not bothering to listen to what she was saying to the person on the phone. I thought to myself, “I’m gonna ask to speak to her supervisor as soon as she puts that phone down”, but then I saw it. I saw the look in her eyes. It was a look of panic and stress. It was a look of defeat that I had seen before and I knew. I knew because I had seen that same look every year in my own Momma’s eyes at this time. Then I begin to listen to what she was saying, right in front of me, to that person on the phone, “but sir, I cannot send any money until after the first of the year”, “yes sir, I understand, but I just can’t send anything until then”. I wonder which bill she wasn’t paying to buy presents for her family? I wonder if she even knows why we celebrate Christmas? It didn’t look like much of a celebration to her. She looked like she couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over. I wonder if anyone has ever told her that it’ll be okay if you don’t meet the standards of the world? I wonder if she knows that it’s okay to just give love? I wonder if she knows that just meeting the basic needs of her family should be gift enough for them? I wonder if she realizes that every time she looks at the gifts she gave her children, she will think, “that toy was my light bill money”? I wonder if she knows that she’s already bitter about this season? I wonder if she knows that her children will still love her even if she doesn’t get them the latest and greatest gadget? I wonder if she knows that the smiles and appreciation she will receive after the gift is given, will be temporary?
I wonder if she’ll ever grasp the real reason of it all…
I wonder if she knows that every good and perfect gift comes from Him?
It’s the expectation that I’m over. It’s the fake, “it’s-better-to-give-than-receive” bull crap saying that people tell themselves as they swipe that overused credit card, that I’m over. It’s the pressure to meet the standard that I’m over. I’m over it for the people that can’t bare that pressure. I’m over it because my Buddhist friend and my atheist friend both have freakin Christmas trees up in their homes. What exactly are they celebrating? The spirit of giving? I’m over what it does to hard working people like my momma and the lady behind the counter.
I’m over the secularized version of Christmas. Over. it. Don’t do it. Don’t buy into it. Don’t let your kids buy into it.
If your Christmas has become anything other than the celebration of the birth of Christ, please, please, redirect it. I’m not saying, “don’t buy gifts”. I’m saying, “don’t buy into the pressure of meeting the standards of what the world has made Christmas”.