57: Reality Check

57: Reality Check

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

Reality Check

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

~Burton Hillis

I stared at the pages of magnificent Christmas decorations and sighed. The tables covered with delicious-looking foods and fancy desserts in Better Homes and Gardens were enough to make anyone drool.

How could I possibly prepare these fantastic holiday dishes for my family? I had three small children and no time for such luxuries. I barely had time to clean our home, let alone design beautiful decorations and cook sensational meals.

I wanted to make this year’s Christmas celebration memorable, but I was still recovering from last year’s miserable failure. I had spent days creating a gingerbread house as well as gingerbread men to hang on our tree. But as Christmas approached, the decorations kept disappearing and the house eventually collapsed.

As the holidays neared, I began to feel mounting tension in my arms and neck. My head ached, and I was miserable. Instead of looking forward to Christmas, I was beginning to dread it.

Wasn’t Christmas supposed to be a joyful time? Well, something had gone wrong. I had somehow lost sight of the real meaning of Christmas amid all these elaborate ideas. I had been allowing the experts to tell me how I should celebrate our holiday.

I decided to consult the only “experts” who really mattered — my children. I wanted to make the big day special for them, and so I needed to find out what they really wanted. “How shall we celebrate Christmas?” I asked them on the way home from the store the next day.

My eight-year-old daughter replied, “Let’s have spaghetti. Spaghetti would be perfect for Christmas because it’s red.”

I felt better already. Spaghetti was easy to make, and it was my daughter’s favorite meal. I knew she would be happy with that choice.

My six-year-old son suggested, “Let’s decorate the tree with candy canes.”

I could purchase candy canes anywhere, and they were inexpensive. I could easily buy extra candy canes for the ones that went AWOL, although I would urge my family not to eat them until after Christmas. I planned to sweeten the deal by promising them a party with hot chocolate and other goodies to go along with the candy canes.

My three-year-old son said, “Let’s have a birthday cake for Jesus. I like the chocolate one in the box. We could play games in the afternoon.”

All their suggestions seemed easy to accomplish. I could certainly make chocolate cake from a mix, and I knew the children would love to “decorate” the cake themselves. What a relief! I wouldn’t have to spend time creating fancy foods or elaborate decorations to make my children happy.

For the first time in weeks, I began to smile. Instead of fussing, I could spend this special day playing games and relaxing with my family. This was truly going to be a fantastic, memorable Christmas!

~JoAnne Check

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