I was talking with a friend yesterday about "being in the holiday spirit". It got me thinking...this is just another area where we sometimes set our standards too high. We expect a lot from ourselves. By "we" I mean all of us, but especially women: mothers, homemakers, wives. We expect of ourselves that we will bake the cookies, hang the garland, make (not buy) gifts--or if we are buying, that it will be the best gift ever. All that while also working, taking care of the children and all the other everyday stuff. It's a LOT to do.
I fall victim to that thinking too. I run around ragged and tired, wanting to do more...and not enjoying what I've done. It's hard not to go there.
Last week was crazy, busy at work. It was "Holiday Store" week--the week we invite the families we serve to come in to the "store" we've set up and shop for their family. For some of our families, this is the only holiday "shopping" they will do. For the staff there's a lot of work to do: taking the money donated to the project and shopping at Target to stock "the store" (pretty awesome shopping trip: 16 carts full of toys, clothes, & household things! Thank you to all that donated!). Once the shopping is done, we set up the store. Then, over the course of 2 days, we bring some 60 families in to our center "to shop". It's busy, but fun! While families are waiting, we serve them cookies and other goodies. If the children have come along, we help to get them excited about the season. For the parents, we hope to help them feel a little better about this season that comes loaded with expectations. After they are done shopping, we load their bags (heavy duty trash bags so the kids can't see the goodies) onto our bus and take them home.
This year was a good year for the store. Despite the recession, donations were up. The past several years have been a little bleak. It can be disheartening those lean years--feeling you really aren't offering much Christmas to the families. But this year was joyous. We were fully stocked and every family had the opportunity to pick something out for every child and for themselves.
And even better, when we were all done, we packed up our "extras" and delivered them to Toys for Tots!
Now I'm off for two weeks. That in itself is glorious. I still have shopping to do--the search for that "best gift ever". I still have baking to do. I still have a few more decorations to hang. But I do believe that this year I have the spirit.
And that is a glorious thing.