Are You Ready?

by Joanie Butman

Does anyone else fall victim to the Christmas crazies? Usually, I’m pretty laid back about Christmas. I don’t have many gifts to buy, and we are certainly not overwhelmed with social engagements. In fact, I wish someone would invite me somewhere so I can unload the closetful of hostess gifts I’ve purchased over the years for invites that never arrived.

So why is this year an exception to my normally tranquil holiday mood? Well, I am in the trifecta of crazy:

  1. In a moment of temporary insanity I agreed to host our annual extended family pilgrimage to the Poconos at our home for three days. Talk about no room at the inn.
  2. My son is anxiously awaiting responses to his college applications.
  3. I started a trial at Sloane Kettering for an experimental drug therapy.

Oh yeah – AND IT’S A WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!! I am in the vortex of the perfect storm. I was sitting at lunch with my daughter this week and overheard (my daughter calls it eavesdropping but whatever) the woman at the next table telling her friend, “I can’t control crazy.” Shaking her head, she repeated it again and again like a yoga mantra. No kidding, I thought. In fact, there is very little I can control except my own attitude.

My questionable choice to hold the annual festivities at our house is definitely going into the anthology I'm writing entitled What Was I Thinking? I’ll tell you what I was thinking: If the only other option was not seeing everyone, I was willing to throw myself under the bus. It sounded noble in July, but just plain stupid in December. Not only that, my husband and children don’t necessarily share my martyr-like tendencies nor were they willing to be dragged under with me. They’ve been down that road before, and it’s not pretty. They gently reminded me that they tried to stop me to no avail. Nevertheless, my husband is a saint. How he manages to accommodate everyone and never lose his positive attitude is admirable and enviable. Secretly, I think he’s happy that he'll have an audience for his Christmas light extravaganza. He fell asleep last night dreaming up clues for the Yule Log hunt. God bless him.

Adding to my angst is the common question I get from everyone I meet, “Are you ready for Christmas?” You’d think we’ve all been training for a marathon – which the Christmas season is slowly becoming now that it starts just after Halloween. Am I prepared? Does it really matter? Ready or not, it’s comin’ next week. I was in desperate need of a mood adjustment. This was getting ridiculous.

Christmas isn’t supposed to be stressful. It’s supposed to be about peace and goodwill towards men. Ha! I haven’t been showing much of that this week. Just yesterday I had to return to a store to apologize for being so impatient with a salesgirl the day before, and I will never go back to the NIKE store in Westport after an incident involving a defective fuel band. I think they must have a warning poster with my face on it in the employee lounge.

Didn’t Jesus say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)? I can’t think of anyone who isn’t weary and burdened by the time December 25th rolls around, so in that sense – YES, I’M READY FOR CHRISTMAS!!!

Here’s the mantra I’ve chosen to focus on: “His presence prevents panic, His presence prevents panic, His presence prevents panic.” Christmas is all about God giving us the present of Himself embodied in Christ. I choose to let His present/presence saturate my entire being with peace so that Christmas will be joyous as it is meant to be. It’s the best gift I can give to my family.

Apparently I am not alone in this frazzled condition, or else my devotions wouldn’t be speaking about this exact malady to which many women succumb this time of year. The day after I wrote this essay my Jesus Calling ended with this confirmation of the newfound mantra I chose to  adopt earlier in the week on my way into Sloane Kettering:

“Let My presence bring order to your thoughts, infusing peace into your entire being. “ (Jesus Calling)


P.S. By the way, this is as close as I'm going to get to a Christmas card this year as my family vetoed every photo I suggested. Have a wonderful, blessed, peace-filled Christmas!