I would say I’m comfortable in my own skin but there are times when I feel like an outsider – like I don’t fit in. This is fine with me, though. I typically feel at home not feeling at home. But there are a few times when feeling like an outsider can start to make me feel uncomfortable. Christmas is one of those times.
We have, over the years, pared down our Christmas activities. I love to bake and bake up a storm most of the year, but I don’t bake much at Christmas. Last year I did bake some of those sugar cookies that you cut into shapes, but I never got around to icing them. We always put up a tree, but most years it only gets decorated if a kind person who feels sorry for us comes over to complete the task, or to encourage us along. This year, our tree only has lights halfway to the top – not because lights are burned out, but because we ran out of lights before we finished the job. I’ve only bought a few Christmas presents; I don’t have a Christmas list made – AND THIS DOESN’T EVEN MAKE ME NERVOUS!
I like Christmas this way. My husband has some time off work, my daughter has a break from school, another will be able to join us a week or so after Christmas, so I figure it’s a good time to slow things down a little bit. I don’t care if we have a decorated tree. I like our half-lit tree. It seems like “us.” But then I start to doubt myself because everyone else has a nice tree – or at least they have a decorated tree. Then I hear about all the cookie baking that’s going on – I did make some chocolate chip cookies last week, and I guess I could LIE and say they were Christmas cookies, but those cookies are long gone. And Christmas cards – wait – I have to stop laughing before I can start writing again. But what truly punches me in the gut is when I hear about the Christmas traditions that different families pass down to their children. I don’t think our family has carried on many Christmas traditions at all through the years except for opening presents and eating some kind of food for lunch, so then I start thinking about how I’m a terrible mother because I haven’t created any Christmas traditions for my children, not even making cute little Christmas cards with one of the millions of pictures I’ve taken of them (and I’m talking the millions of pictures I’ve taken in the past day or so), so WHAT KIND OF A MOTHER AM I ANYWAY!! Then I get over it, look at my half-lit tree, and love the way it reminds me of “us” – a group of sometimes-tree decorating, non-Christmas cookie baking people.
I guess I need to stop thinking about everyone else and see that we have created a Christmas tradition for our family – a tradition of slowing down and being receptive to whatever changes might come our way. We’ve had several groups of people live with us over the years and are accustomed to fluctuations in the way, and with whom, Christmas is celebrated. And I do love lights, decorations and cookies, but for me, a person who gets overwhelmed with details, these things create stress, busyness and deflect from the celebration of Christ’s birth. So yes, at Christmas I feel like we are “that” family – a family of outsiders. But that’s fine. Because each time I feel like an outsider this Christmas I will remember to rejoice, not only in Christ’s birth, but also in the truth that as a Christian I am an outsider – this world is not my home. And what a tremendous gift this is.