WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

An Adequate Christmas

By Jake Morrill

“On a busy day twenty-two thousand people come to visit Santa, and I was told that it is an elf's lot to remain merry in the face of torment and adversity. I promised to keep that in mind.”
—David Sedaris, “SantaLand Diaries

An assortment of brightly colored holiday sweaters, in profile, lined up as they hang together

You ever read those magazine articles about how to "survive Christmas"? As if Christmas were some kind of endurance event? To me, that all seems just a little extreme.

Then again, it can come from the other side, too—all those jangling jingle bells, with people wanting to put a wildly ugly Christmas sweater on you, and all of the forced merriment. Maybe that’s not where you’re at, either.

What if it wasn’t only a choice between misery or merry? What about a third option: an adequate Christmas. An adequate Christmas would have you calm and open, taking it in, accepting whatever is.

Pique your interest? Here are three things that could help:

  1. Notice those behaviors that you tend to do when you’re wound up too tight. Could be overeating, could be drinking too much, could be picking fights with family members — just choose one behavior you know you’ve got in you. Don’t need to change it. Just try to notice, and see what happens.
  2. Say out loud what you want. Nobody can read your mind, right? People aren’t magic. So if you’ve got particular expectations for the holiday season? Say them out loud. Say I’d like to do this, I’d like to go there, or I really don’t want to do this. With what you want on the table, it’s easier for everybody to figure out what to do. (I got that idea from my friend Carrie Contey.)
  3. This last one’s a doozy. Ready? Treat the holidays as sacred time. Turn your attention toward tradition, toward spiritual practice, toward encountering and welcoming God like you haven’t before. Slow it all down like you might be, in some way, attuned to the pace of the Eternal. If you need, you can fake it at first.

Can I promise these things would bring a wonderful Christmas? Well, no. But maybe this year it could be adequate.

God of creation, bless our becoming with grace enough that we can laugh at ourselves, our hearts glad for the sufficiency of the days we’ve been given. Amen.