“The Reality of Christmas,” Ensign, Dec. 1982, 67
My five-year-old whispered a secret to me: “Santa Claus is real. Know how I know? Rudolph is real!”
What, I wondered, was the reality of Christmas in our home? What did my five children see? Hurry, frustration, weariness, and dissatisfaction were, I feared, my realities; and with that realization I set out to modify my approach and my unrealistic expectations.
A harmonious Christmas would have to be carefully planned. I could not be over-tired or over-scheduled, so … the house would be thoroughly cleaned in November and that would suffice until January. Holiday meals (the family selected quiche as one) would be frozen in advance. We happily limited our social engagements. We elected to have only two parties—one with adults, one with children. Planning and preparing for both is a joint family effort.
Christmas cards had become a guilt-ridden duty. Late, hurried notes failed to communicate the love I felt. Now I send some of those intimate notes at Thanksgiving, others at Easter, and still other notes go on birthdays.
I try to have all the shopping and wrapping finished by December 1. Then I can freely focus on the family and not get nervous when it takes a six-year-old an eternity to wrap the present for his teacher or despair when the Christmas cookies are eaten while still dough.
Now Christmas activities center on our advent calendar with its twenty-five pockets, each containing a tiny hand-made ornament to hang on the felt tree, as well as a note about that day’s project. December 1 is reserved for bringing out the Nativity scene, and each child takes part in arranging the figures. Other activities include visiting Temple Square, delivering goodies and visiting Monday nights with people on our love list, and reading stories which exemplify the spiritual aspects of Christmas.
I am acquiring the serenity that allows for spiritual sensitivity. Other—and better—things now comprise the reality of my Christmas.—Bonnie McCauley, Salt Lake City, Utah