Posted by: minnow | December 27, 2011

Sometimes…Christmas Sucks

Christmas Eve as I was getting ready to head to work my oldest daughter told me, “Christmas sucks!”  To be fair, I had just tried to give her a heads up that Christmas morning might not go just as she wanted it to by way of asking her to let her Father call the shots with regard to her younger sister, as well as to suggest that stockings might be opened before I got home.

It is not easy being 16 when you were not only the youngest for ten years but the only girl and now you’re not.  Now, you have to “compete” with a six year old.  The reality is my oldest daughter is not your stereo-typical teen.  She’s not an angry teen, a rebellious teen, a sullen teen, a lazy teen.  She’s not totally self-absorbed.  And, she doesn’t act like the adult world is out to make her life miserable.

The reality is—Christmas does suck, sometimes.  It’s no fun to feel like you’re being selfish just because you want some of the magic that makes the holiday special for you, to actually happen.  It’s difficult to be cheerful when your innocence is challenged by the realities of an economic crunch, prickly relationships, and rampant materialism.

I responded badly to my daughter’s declaration.  I snapped back at her, “Yes it does suck!” and shut the door hard behind me.  I fought back my tears all the way to work and thought about what my daughter said, what I said, and why we said the things we did the rest of the night.

You see, my daughter’s words brought me face to face with my own selfish feelings.  I did not want to be going to work on Christmas Eve and I did not want to go back to work Christmas Day night.  Even though I really respect the organization I work for, my boss, and my co-workers, my job is anything but glamorous or life changing.  I work in a group home for children who have been removed from their homes due to severe neglect and/or abuse.  But the tasks I perform—cleaning, cooking, and laundry—don’t put me in much contact with the children, especially since one of my main responsibilities is to stay awake through the night, while the children sleep.  And on Christmas Eve, staying awake and cleaning toilets wasn’t my idea of fun!

I text apologized to my daughter, though I don’t suppose it changed many of her feelings toward what was happening to Christmas.  Especially since, realizing what was going on didn’t do all that much to change mine.  At the same time, when I got home Christmas morning I was greeted with hugs and smiles, the smell of bacon and eggs, and the offer of a made to order latte.  We gathered (as per our family tradition) in my husband’s and my bedroom (only some of us still fitting on the bed) and took turns opening our stockings.  Breakfast was eaten in the living room where I read the Christmas story from Luke and we again took turns opening gifts handed out by our oldest and youngest “elves”.

By the time we’d all gone up to my Dad’s for dinner with my sister’s family, I’d taken a bit of a nap, and was heading back to work I had received an attitude adjustment.  Or maybe I just received the blessing of my family—people I love, loving me.  Their presence helped me to put aside my disappointment and embrace the moments we did share.  Watching them engage with one another even when the situation didn’t go their way gave me moments to ponder in my heart.  And ironically, the joy and fun I needed to leave behind helped me head back to work without resentment.

In the end I learned that sometimes God’s presents aren’t tangible.  And, sometimes, even when Christmas sucks (and incidentally I really hate that word), what we receive blesses us.

I’m not too sure mine fits with the other Synchroblogs for December but I will pass on these links:

Kathy Escobar – Pain Relief Not Pain Removal

Glenn Hager – Underwear For Christmas

Jeremy Myers – The Unexpected Gift From Jesus

Tammy Carter  – Unstuck

Jeff Goins – The Day After Christmas: A Lament

Wendy McCaig – Unwanted Gifts: You Can Run But You Can Not Hide

Christine Sine – The Wait Is Over – What Did I Get?

Maria Kettleson Anderson – Following The Baby We Just Celebrated 

Leah – Still Waiting For Redemption


  1. You described your work as “anything but glamorous or life changing”. I don’t know if I would call it “glamorous” but it does impact the lives of those children.

    The work you do has a direct and positive impact on abused or neglected children. While you may not have “much contact with the children” I would assume that you do get the opportunity to see the faces of those you help. What an honor it must be to be doing something so meaningful and tangible in today’s world. I empathize with how it must not feel that way on a daily basis. As someone who had it pretty rough as a child I want to thank you for everything you do. I would not have made it out of the slums without the contributions of people like you.

    While I was never sent to a foster home (maybe I should have been) I did benefit from a number of programs for “underprivileged children”. I remember once being amazed at the feel of clean sheets while staying at a youth camp when I was eight. And the food they served us there was heaven compared to the government subsidized school lunches which were my only real meal of the day.

    Thank you

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