Unwrapping Christmas Lies, Truth and Mysteries

My kids never believed in Santa Clause when they were growing up. It wasn’t because we were trying to be “counter-culture” or because we thought Santa Clause was a terrible, non-religious tradition: we just didn’t like deceiving them. It didn’t feel right to lie to them even if it was just innocent fun. Being honest and forthright was something I valued and worked hard to incorporate in my parenting style. However, years later, I’ve realized that the Santa deception was nothing compared to the other lie I unconsciously taught my children each Christmas, a lie so cunning and sly it held me in its grip for years.

Christmas Magicpile of Christmas presents under the tree and a bicycle

Christmas was always a magical time of the year for me when I was growing up. The anticipation was mind boggling as I dreamed of all the wonderful toys that would be under the tree. I was never disappointed. My mother and aunt loved Christmas and were very intentional about creating an unbelievable day for me and my five siblings. On Christmas morning our tree would transform from a barren bunch of branches to a beautiful vision of color, sparkle and bling as presents of every shape and size bulged from beneath. Weeks earlier my brothers and sisters and I would comb through the pages of the Sears catalogue creating our Christmas wish lists. Barbies, dolls, tape recorders, puppets, bicycles, clothing, candy canes, and so much more were on those lists. We rarely received gifts any other time of the year but at Christmas we’d each get a pile of presents stacked nearly as high as the tree. Christmas day meant all our dreams came true!

Unwrapping Christmas LiesSad woman standing beside Christmas tree

But, as an adult, Christmas Day was difficult for me for many years. The time leading up to Christmas was always filled with the same anticipation I had as a child. But when Christmas arrived, I’d spiral into a dark place. Heartbroken, disillusioned, and depressed, I’d sulk and be despondent until the day was over, and the season had passed. Eventually, I began to dread Christmas day because I knew I’d be wrestling with emotions that were beyond my control. After many years of struggling, I began to understand that the cause  was a lie holding me in its grip.

The little girl inside of me longed to be enchanted and dazzled by perfect gifts and be given one more time the soul satisfying attention of feeling like the world was under my spell for that moment in time. So, no matter how hard my husband, my children, and my extended family tried to make my Christmas special, nothing could satisfy. I was always disappointed because the feeling I had as a child could never be recreated.

Christmas, for me, was not only evidence of my self-centeredness but of a belief that drove my existence. I believed my personal feelings of contentment, happiness, and self-satisfaction should be a priority in my life, and when this was achieved, my life would not only be good but satisfying and full. Without realizing it, I had created a world that revolved around my wants and desires and Christmas morning was to be my ultimate moment of glory for my perceived needs to be met.

Unwrapping Christmas Truth

happy woman and daughter opening a gift beside Christmas tree Unfortunately, I also taught this to my children when I made everything all about them. I did it at Christmas time but also with extravagant birthday parties, expensive shopping trips and providing tirelessly for their every need. I resolved to create a utopia that gave my children every advantage in life. But even when I failed, the messages they heard all around them shouted the same lie, that contentment is found when personal needs are satisfied. Commercials, television, movies, novels, all promote the belief that the essence of life is self-gratification. And if it isn’t culture telling us this, then it comes from within, a voice that says, “I will only be happy when I’m known fully and loved completely”.

The lie deceives us into believing we can find fulfillment from people, possessions, and experiences. We believe that finding the perfect mate who meets all of our needs, or acquiring the perfect career that uses all of our gifts or surrounding ourselves with the home and possessions that portray our individuality will make our lives perfect. However, the reality is that none of it satisfies and we spend our lives searching, longing, wanting more.

Unwrapping Christmas Mysteries

wrapped present with magical stars around it Ironically, what I’ve come to understand is that what I desire to fill is already full. I just need to discover the hidden reservoir within me. It remains hidden because it is stagnate. Only when I tap into it and begin letting it flow outward do I feel its satisfaction. The key to discovering it is to begin turning my focus outward, refusing to believe the lie when it whispers to me in unexpected moments, “your empty, you need more”. It’s an antithetical shift in thinking and a struggle most of the time. But, when I remove myself from the center of my world, I stop drowning in discontent and peace comes to my rescue. Moreover, the treasures of the good life are within my grasp.

Now, I wish I had resolved as a young mother to allow my children to experience more failure, to endure more disappointments and to not only feel but embrace the pain of sorrow. Not because they would have been better prepared for life but because it would have conditioned them to look outward. Perhaps truth is found not in people, possessions, or the place we hold in society, rather the focus that drives our existence.

I’ve learned that contentment and a Merry Christmas are both within my grasp if only I’m willing to keep my heart clearly set on anyone, anything other than me. Nothing is about me, it’s all about the people around me and how I can love them well. The Christmas I consciously chose to lay aside my expectations and let go of Christmas past I found joy in the season once again. I also learned for the first time why Christmas is so magical. It is a moment in time to acknowledge, experience, embrace and most importantly, imitate pure, sacrificial love.


 

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Rebecca M., a mother of three successfully launched adults and recent grandmother to one adorable baby boy {Barrett, 12 months old} has enjoyed working with children her entire life. Over the course of her career, she taught nearly every grade level from preschool to 8th grade in private and public schools. Rebecca’s love of children and passion for education led her to a ministry of supporting young mothers by providing quality childcare. She now directs BELA, BridgePoint Early Learning Academy, a preschool program for infants through pre-kindergarteners. When she is not busy babysitting her grandson or managing BELA, she enjoys writing, gardening, swimming, and planning events. Married to David, her biggest supporter, friend, and companion for 31 years, Rebecca considers the strength of her family to be her number one life accomplishment and finds her greatest joys come from pouring into the lives of those she loves and serves.

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