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A Christmas Resolved

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or at least that’s what our radios chant as we approach Christmas. For me, Christmas always seems to be the most stressful time of the year, not so much the most wonderful. Between attending holiday parties, decorating every inch of the house with a Christmas light or wreath, purchasing gifts, and making sure they’re immaculately wrapped, it’s easy to lose the joy and celebration that Christmas is associated with, but I won’t let it happen to me again. Today, Thanksgiving day, 2008, I am promising myself that this year will be different. This year, I’ll play in the snow with my kids, and watch the A Christmas Story marathon until I can recite it verbatim. This year I will focus on the reason for the season, as trite as that might sound, and give more of myself than of things. This year I won’t worry about the value of the gifts I give but, instead, I will concentrate on the value of the recipient. I’ve tried this before and failed again and again, but this year, THIS year will be different!
I set my alarm for nine-thirty a.m., with hopes to rest after a long day of cooking and spending time with relatives, and I settled into bed intending to sleep through the bargains and hysteria that major shopping centers had been advertising for weeks. This year I would not be a part of it! That was the plan. Unfortunately, my plan and my subconscious were not on the same page and I found myself lying awake at four a.m. on the morning of Black Friday imagining the crowds and trying desperately to be smug and content that I was not in the middle of it all! I had no intentions of breaking my promise and participating in a five a.m. shopping spree as I had done countless years before. “I won’t go gift shopping this morning,” I thought to myself, “but do need to pick up a few things at the grocery store.” So, I reasoned that as long as I was awake I might as well get it over with. I quickly dressed and was on my way to get some groceries as I passed a crowded Wal-Mart parking lot, and this is where my self-control became uncontrolled. Well, it was a super-Wal-Mart so I could get the groceries here, I again reasoned. So, I pulled into the lot, and quickly parked. “As long as I’m here I might pick up a quick gift or two. With gas prices the way they are I shouldn’t waste a trip”, I assured myself as I decided on a buggy, rather than the shopping basket. Five hours and a few hundred dollars later, I found myself loading the back of my Expedition with the bargains and “rolled back prices” that Wal-Mart had tortured me with until resistance was futile. I got behind the wheel, and began to feel guilty as I glared at my treasures in the rearview mirror. I convinced myself that tomorrow was a new day, and a new chance to start over with my battle against the commercialism that Christmas had become to me.
As intent as I was on sticking to my goal, I found myself struggling every day against the urge to return to my old ways, and I often I was overcome by what I believed to be necessities. I found myself contemplating if the 6-foot blow-up snowman was what our front yard really needed? Or, if a 5th tree, for the guest bathroom was really so important that I make yet another trip to Michaels. It’s December 26th, and while I sit in my extravagantly decorated home, surrounded by cookies of every Christmas shape, I think of my failed resolve to concentrate more on the spirit of Christmas. My family seems happy as they revel in the glitter and glow that I created, and I wonder what I’m teaching my children about the real meaning of Christmas. Well, maybe I’ll try again next year, only maybe next time, my balancing act will be better and if the scales tip they will tip towards the true gifts of the season. Content with my latest resolution and knowing I had a full 11 months to gain strength, I settled into my perfectly placed Christmas afghan and turned on the radio only to be greeted by those familiar words, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”





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