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“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
Roy L. Smith

Until I met Betty 16 years ago, I seldom made it through a holiday without feeling like a toppled tree. Christmas after Christmas, I hoped for holiday cheer. Instead, I gave into fear and perfectionism.

Will I buy the right gifts?  Do I have time to put up decorations before it’s time to take them down again? Will I get around to mailing cards early and to everyone?

“Don’t bother to buy a gift, or even send a card. Just be sure to visit after the busyness is over,” said Betty.

When I mentioned baking cookies, she asked what kind I liked. She suggested I bake that recipe first, then ask for help if I decided to prepare more.

She hinted that gifts don’t have to be wrapped, mailing lists are not contracts, and cheap tape seals a gift just fine. No one cares that transparent tape looks neater.

I breathed for the first holiday season ever.

I took time to watch the tree lights blink on and off. I was enchanted by Christmas movies I had once watched out of obligation. I noticed my family’s expressions while they opened gifts, and this time around, it wasn’t to see if they approved.

When I stopped sending cards, I was especially grateful for each one we received because someone took time to do what I skipped. When our daughter moved away, I gifted her my cookie recipe books. She enjoys baking more than I ever have.

There came a Christmas I dispensed with putting up a tree, and I decorated a window with lights, red and green balls, ornaments and tinsel.

To make room for cheer, what needs to be scratched from your holiday to-do list?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Holiday cheer begins when we stop pressuring ourselves to create a perfect Christmas and enjoy the one we have.

On the side: “What we discovered is that by letting go, they (her grown children) come more often because there’s no pressure,” said T. Suzanne Eller in her Proverbs 31 Devotion entitled Holiday Blues. The link to the devotion is no longer active.

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