For many decades I have held on to the striving for a perfect Christmas. I stubbornly persisted in seeking this fantasy. God had to break me of this idol in my life. Yesterday, when I wanted to be enjoying the day before Christmas and Christmas Eve with Karen and our kitties, I ended up in the ER with an asthma attack brought on by a respiratory bug. We were exhausted by all the stress of the day. We didn’t get watching our favourite Christmas movie, the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol. I said to Karen in anger, “Christmas Eve has been ruined! The Christmas Eve we planned didn’t happen. We’re too tired to watch A Christmas Carol!” Karen in her love for me asked this question: “Darling, why do you think having a perfect Christmas is so important to you?” I had to think a number of minutes before the answer came. Then, I said, “I think it’s because this is the one time in the year where God gave me the gift of my schizophrenic father being loving, gentle and kind. He didn’t say cruel and hurtful things to me.”
I would have preferred my father to be even more caring, but I was thankful for the way he was for the most part on Christmas day. God gave me and my family the present of a father more the way we hoped he would be all of the time. We weren’t so much the victims of his abuse. That doesn’t mean his behaviour was the best, but this beautiful gift of briefly having this more loving father has been one I have come to cherish.
Logically, we know that there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas. Many spend thousands of dollars each year on gifts, because of often being lured in by sales ads in newspapers or TV commercials. Their message is spend money to show your love for others. I like receiving gifts just as much as anyone else, but Christmas isn’t about who gets the most expensive presents or the most gifts. It’s about the love we give to each other.
I deeply regret that many Christmases have been destroyed with Karen because of demanding that perfect Christmas. I feel so liberated being finally freed from this god in my life that has been there for decades. My desire for that perfect Christmas was my attempt to recreate the Christmases of my childhood with my father and family.
Please don’t worry if Christmas doesn’t turn out like you planned. Focus on enjoying the time you have with family and friends. Laugh a lot. Have fun with one another.
Take some time to reflect upon the greatest gift given to us – the baby Jesus born in a crude stable manger in the little town of Bethlehem, because there was no room for his mother, Mary, father, Joseph and Jesus in the inn (Luke 2:7). Hug those you love. Tell them you love them like you never have before. In this world filled with more news about our inhumanity to each other, we need to love each other. That’s the greatest gift you can give those you love.
Have a joyous Christmas season and a richly blessed new year!
Kevin and Karen Osborne are Christian pastoral counsellors and psychotherapists. Kevin is studying to become a chaplain and professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. We have started You Can Hope Again Counselling. Karen enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppet, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy bear. He is a partner with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy pastors and ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.
Co-author on Mind’s Seat, a Christian inspirational blog