Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Who The Heck Am I?!

I am a relatively self-aware person. In the organization I work for, development and growth are highly valued and frequently discussed. Growth and development BEGIN with self awareness. I know who I am.

So, imagine my surprise when I went to the store and bought a Christmas wreath for our front door in early November!! Me! The one who does not get excited about Christmas things. And then I heard someone playing Christmas music a couple days after that (still early November mind you) and did NOT HATE IT!!! What the heck is happening to me?! If you know me, you would be shocked. Delighted, perhaps, but most definitely surprised by this new attitude towards all things Christmas.

Actually, I became most concerned when, just today, I was looking closely at a picture of a cat and thought “I really want that cat.” A CAT?! Since when have I ever wanted a cat?!?! NEVER. Never. Never. So strange, because it was so sincere inside me.

Leading me to ask the question, “Who am I?!”

My dreams are often very vivid, a little odd, and can be very revealing about what is going on in my head…or not. There was the dream about designing a new Mace with regenerative cells so the burning effect wouldn’t wear off. Or the one where I had to coach a basketball team. Or the one where I was walking around carrying a big wad of cash. My dreams are not dull.

Twice this month I’ve dreamt that I discovered hidden, forgotten rooms in a house we lived in. What does that mean?! Am I the house? Are there hidden and undiscovered things in me? I am taking on lots of new responsibilities at work and learning new things so that is probably where that comes from. ??

But the cat? And Christmas? I don’t know what that is all about. Somebody tell me what’s happening to me!

Here we go again in 2010

I listened to this message from Andy Stanley.   He said things like “Awareness drives discontentment”.  “Life is expensive, death is cheap.” and “If you live with the assumption that all of the extra you have is for your consumption, then you are greedy and miss the point.”

This is why I’m conflicted. I can’t find a happy medium.  It’s all or nothing.  I asked God to help me temper my response to what He is showing me.  Really?   Really?  He was not amused by that request.

What I meant was to help me NOT be a wet blanket to those around me.  Can I do this Christmas with love, joy, encouragement and still be less focused on the materialism of the thing?

OH YES I CAN.  In fact, I’ve realized that if I focus more on what I’m for, instead of what I’m against, then my joy is revealed.  Yep.  Have I ever mentioned that I’m a slow learner?  Duh.

I think if I spent less time thinking, life would be simpler.  Nevertheless….

Now I just have to figure out exactly what I am for.  What I do know, is that this year there will be more Christmas music.  More holiday baking.  More decorations, lights, Christmas movies.  Still not more shopping, but more time enjoying the traditions that involve family, friends, and Jesus.

After Christmas last year, Cameron said “It just didn’t feel like Christmas”.  😦  My bad.

Advent. The Advent Season. The Season of Advent.

Advent.  What is it?  Every time I hear that word I have to think about what it means exactly…something about expecting…anticipating.  ?  Preparing?  Something about Christmas and the days leading up to it.  There are calendars and wreaths you can buy or make.

This year I’m reading the Rediscovering Christmas reading plan on YouVersion (actually I’m reading it on my mobile device)  It includes reflection questions and action steps to center each day on Christ.  Which is awesome.

So what are you expecting from this season?  What are you preparing for?  The very first Christmas changed EVERYTHING.  Why does this Christmas have to be any different?    That’s what I’m expecting.

AND I watched the Advent Conspiracy video. Here is one of them (there are a few).  Be careful, it’ll mess you up.

Black Friday with a twist

The day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, is not a shopping day for the Kelleys.  We have other things in mind.  Starting with breakfast-which we wait for a reasonable hour for–at our favorite place, Chick-Fil-a.  And since it’s been a while since I’ve posted any pictures, I thought I tell this story mostly with pics.

These little beauties are the highlight of breakfast.  My mouth is watering just looking at the picture. mmm…Chickn Mini’s.

The winner of our annual best worst Christmas ornament is….whatever this is.

Honorable mention for best worst Christmas ornament goes tooo….the hideously malformed ginger bread…uh…boy.

At this point in the day, we took a break and went back home to see Daniel and Elizabeth, my nephew and niece, since they were visiting from Colorado.  Chronologically, this picture doesn’t fit, but it’s representative of them and their visit, so, shush.  Aren’t they cute?!

A little while later we headed to Bricktown for some more silliness.  and dinner.  and lights.  The water taxi is free, starting that day through New Years, and you’d a-thought they was givin’ away dollar bills for all the people lined up to take a ride.

So, we skipped the water taxi and just took a walk along the canal.  Apparently, they lit the Christmas tree while we were there, but we managed to miss it somehow.

So, there.  That marked the beginning of a Christmas season made up of very little shopping, very little stress, and some just plain old fun for the sake of making memories.

Where there’s a void…

“Where there’s a void, negativity will fill it.”  This is from a book called “The No Complaining Rule”.  awesome book, very quick read, practical, inspiring.  I definitely recommend it.  When I first heard that quote, I thought instantly about it in terms of communication.  When there’s a void (in communication), negativity will fill it.  Lots of practical applications there.  But another thought hit me today.

I”m feeling lost, out of balance, unsettled…negative…it’s tough to find the precise language to describe it. (Which reminds me of a really good book I just read called The Giver–more on that later…as in another day.)  Anyway, troubled, disconcerted, anxious…

I talk here and here about my opinions and feeling about Christmas and “the Holidays”.   I just really want to get down to the heart of the matter and weed out all the ridiculousness of the season.  The buying, the running around, etc., and all the stuff that makes me feel overwhelmed to the point where I can’t breathe anymore.

I announced I wasn’t shopping and buying stuff this year, but that all monies I would ordinarily spend would go to Charity: Water.  Initially, I felt really good about this decision, but then the little seeds of doubt began to grow…does this go for everyone?  what about traditions like Christmas morning presents for the kids?  Stockings?  does it bless others when you donate to a charity of your choice in their name?  Have a created a void?? and then allowed negativity to fill it?

So, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks (since Thanksgiving) not preparing for Christmas.  Oh, of course we threw up a tree, listened to some Christmas music, and started reading some of our favorite Christmas stories, but it’s odd.  weird.   like something is missing. When someone asked me today “Are you ready for Christmas?” (don’t we always ask each other that this time of year?), I didn’t know what to say.

So, if I am going to continue with a “Christmas gift void”, I’m going to have to have something substantial to fill it…not only the time, but the spirit.  the spirit of giving maybe…  wow, who knew someone could make Christmas rebellion so hard.

My mind-opened up for all to see.

Balance.  I’ve been praying for it, searching for it.   Especially as it pertains to the way I feel about the “H” word. But is balance a good thing?  It occurred to me that it’s possible for balance to be the same as compromise.  I don’t like that idea.

Last month, I announced that I’m only giving water for Christmas.  Check out the blog post here if you don’t remember.  It made me feel like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my chest.  I was actually caught enjoying some Christmas music last week.  Even if it was fairly rocked-out Christmas music–not the cheesy, Christmas Shoes type–but it was Christmas music, nonetheless.   All because I decided to forgo giving gifts this Christmas.  (for those who don’t know this about me, I strongly dislike Christmas music–I’m saving up for therapy, don’t worry)

But then…I started thinking. This is always my problem…too much thinking.

What about giving?   Is “giving” money to a charity that I care about a blessing to someone else?     The gift should be something special and meaningful to the receiver, right?

We are more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35  So, now I’m more worried about the giver being blessed, than the receiver?!  Huh?

So, if I decide to rethink the Christmas gift thing and think that every gift given must be a blessing to the receiver–something well thought out, extremely personal, and meaningful, then that brings me back to the anxiety, the shopping, the agonizing over what to buy to make everyone happy.  I can’t go there.  I get a lump in my throat, a tingly feeling in my nose, and my eyes begin to water when I even think of it.

But, what if …ah, stop.  I need to stop.    No more of these rhetorical questions that don’t have easy answers.   I’m going back to James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask God.  Give me clarity, God. Please.

This year will be different…Yippee!!

Why do I dread the holidays?  Why?  Is it the extra “tasks” that make me feel overwhelmed or inadequate?  Is it the way they are driven in every way by consumerism?

When I was a kid, my mom and dad made a big deal out of the holidays.  All of them.  Easter, Valentines Day, Christmas, Halloween.  And most were gift giving occasions.   Those are happy memories.  so, why do I now have such an aversion?  It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’m already starting to feel the anxiety of the H word.

Walking through any store, I glance around at the ridiculous things that I could spend money on.   Last year, I wasn’t strong enough to rebel and just say no.  I even blogged about it. I got swept along in the flow of the holidays and did what I was “supposed” to do.  But this year will be different.  It will.  I’ve posted my resolve on my facebook page and I’m shouting it from my blog.  My sweet precious daughter is with me right now, sitting on the arm of my chair, and we’ve been talking about it for almost an hour.  It’s done.  She’ll hold me accountable, that’s for sure.  She doesn’t mince words.

So, here it is.

If you are on my Christmas list, you’re getting water.  Technically, you won’t actually get it, someone else will.  It’ll be someone who doesn’t deserve to drink dirty water…they were just born in a developing country, in a village with no water source.  Hopefully it’ll be a mom who hands her child a cup filled with contaminated water that she just walked miles to get, and says “drink” and then prays her child doesn’t get sick.

In America, we use more than 150 gallons of water a day, per person.  Drinking, showering, flushing the toilet, laundry, etc…all of it clean water.  In some developing countries,  a person will struggle to find 5 gallons a day.

So…sorry you won’t be getting that tube of hand lotion from me this year.  or that Garfield Chia Pet.    I might, however, hand you a water bottle filled with dirty water to remind you of your gift though…wouldn’t that be, ummm….crass?  a little less than delicate?   I really need to find some way to find balance.

and by the way, if you want to know what to get me for Christmas…I think you can figure it out.

All I want for Christmas

You know what lights me on fire?  You wanna hear what makes me really mad?  I hate hearing someone say “we’re not going to be able to have Christmas this year, b/c ____ (fill in the blank)”.  WHAT?!!  WHAT?!  What does that mean “not going to have Christmas”?!?  It means we won’t be able to buy presents for our kids.  We won’t be able to buy stuff for everyone.  So, does that mean you won’t have Christmas?!?  (This should probably be in all caps, b/c I’m typing really hard and my inner voice is screaming!)  Can somebody give me an amen?!  <<deep breath>>

Can we “have Christmas” without the presents?  Yes.  It’s about the savior of the world coming to live and die on this earth to save us.  I’m pretty sure we can acknowledge that without giving the latest gadget to our kid or a robe and slippers to our mother-in-law!

I am in one of the “lucky” families who will get to have Christmas–i.e. my kids will get presents.  They don’t need anything.  they really don’t.  They have more than most kids in the world.  My mission this coming year is to prepare my kids to do Christmas differently.  It’s too late this year–we’ve already given them their presents—a week and a half early.   I didn’t want Christmas day to be about that.

I just watched this video b/c someone I love sent it to me and it has completely messed me up!.  God’s been doing something inside me for a while now and this is it.

I don’t hate Christmas…yes, I do, no, I don’t…

Yes, I do…

I’d love to “wake up” and follow JC’s advice and do Christmas without the crap, but life just won’t let me.

Whether it’s b/c of obligation, or other reasons, I have to buy gifts.  I have to do all of the Christmas stuff. I can’t avoid it.  For starters, there are some people I’d really like to honor with something special.  Although, I have a hard time balancing 2 concepts–generosity and stewardship.  How can I be generous and enjoy giving and also be smart with my family’s money. The answer is probably “creatively!” but, that takes time and brain power that I just don’t have…

My life is already almost more than I can handle.  Just the business and details of running a household, taking care of 2 kids and 3 pets, having another Full Time out-of-the-house job, is overwhelming sometimes.  Paying the bills on time (all of them), what’s for dinner, who’s got homework, etc.  I can usually stay on top of things with to-do lists–I can use these fairly effectively.  However, my to-do lists for home and work can eat me alive.  So, here comes Christmas, time to add another separate to-do list.

It feels like someone opened up my skull, took a whisk, and scrambled my brains. Now I can’t get anything done.  I know I should start earlier to get it all done, but I dread the pressure–why would I want to start it sooner than absolutely necessary??

So, should I “just say no”?  No to sending Christmas cards, no to shopping for the perfect gifts, no to lights and stocking stuffers, and homemade goodies, etc??  I don’t think I’m a strong enough rebel to say no.  I’ll cave to the pressure and somehow get through it. and somehow take care of myself and spend as much time with my Savior as I possibly can.  I don’t have a choice in that–my sanity depends on it.

How does everyone else deal with the pressure?