Right about now, this sounds like such a good idea. It's an unfortunate fact that the holidays are such a difficult time of year for everyone, for many different reasons. Everything seems to be moving at such a hurried pace. Days are short and our lists are far too long. And even when it's the "good" stuff that we're tending to - finding the right gift, attending all the festivities, making all the right food - it can ultimately be so tiring and down right overwhelming for even the most well-intentioned. Add the stress of unexpected, unfair difficult day-to-day circumstances amidst all this "hustle and bustle" and it just almost seems too much to ask of anyone.
These last couple of Christmases have certainly taught Michael and I that our problems don't take hiatus for the holidays. Trying to make the best of whatever the situation is draining and by the time Christmas gets here, it's almost as if we're trudging along, just waiting for it to be over. What a horrible way to just 'get through' these days that are supposed to be filled with joy, anticipation, and blessedness!
In the book "Skipping Christmas" (and the movie "Christmas with the Kranks"), the Kranks skip Christmas so they can "get away from it all" and save some money to boot. Now that sounds like a plan I could get on board with. But as it turns out, they end up finding the real blessing of Christmas in their hearts, in giving and receiving love from those around them. This is certainly easier said than done, especially when circumstances present plausible problems.
However, no matter the size of the trouble or the way 'things' always seem to get in the way of finding the heart of Christmas, God has never left us alone and certainly now is the time when He most reveals to us just how near he is. It is in this very special gift of Christmas that God finds a way to warm our hardened hearts and for even just a fleeting moment, gives us the peace, warmth, and contentment we all spend exorbitant amounts of money, time, and energy trying to create every Christmas. But it's always found at the same place, every year - in the quiet surrender of the manger.
So ordering Christmas cards is supposed to be a fun, memory-making project, right? Choosing the right photo, the right layout, just the right wording...it can take hours, sometimes days. Michael and I spent just a couple of hours making up a cute little poem about how we failed to send out address changes when we moved in the summer and asking to remember us at our new address - it was cute and festive, and a labor of our love together. I chose a picture from the family shoot and placed my order. I rushed the cards so they would arrive in time to be mailed out so people could receive our card in time to send us theirs. Genius, right? So I watched the tracking as my cards were completed, shipped and then received in Bowling Green. I was to receive them on Monday, and when I got home from work, there was nothing in the storm door, so I knew they hadn't come. After a difficult day, I was a little more upset about this than I probably should have been, but then, out of the darkness, the UPS truck comes barreling down our street and my hope is restored. I meet the guy at the street, get my package and happily bound back to the house with my cards. I get inside, open my package and find this: It's Vivian Mai's annnouncements for her graduation from San Jose State University. 20 of them. And no cards that I ordered. So, as any normal person would do, I immediately get on the phone...oh no, wait, you CAN'T CALL Mixbook because they don't have a customer service number. So I have to CHAT with someone in customer service. SUPER. So I finally get in live chat with a representative and explain my dilemma, ask for a refund, and then wait for ten minutes while this rep "checks on the status of the order." Frustration mounting, I simply repeated myself and told him I was no longer interested in my cards as I wouldn't have time to get them mailed out after processing, etc. So, he finally returns and mildly apologizes with nothing to offer me, but did promise my refund. At this point I was satisfied and thought for sure this would be worth laughing at one day. And that was the next day. Because THIS is what came in the mail on Tuesday: Yep, poor Eric and Stacey's Christmas cards celebrating their wedding. 50 of these. So I now have 20 graduation announcements, 50 wedding Christmas cards, and no cards of my own. (Not to mention one very angry graduate and a pair of angry newlyweds. MixBook supposedly got their orders worked out and re-shipped. I highly doubt it.)
This Sunday afternoon, when we all normally would have been decorating trees and hanging garland, mom insisted we all get together for a family photo shoot for Christmas cards. We all reluctantly obliged, and even mom was a bit hesitant about spending the afternoon taking pictures of ourselves. (Really, no photographer, just self-timers.) Turns out, it was a beautiful day, everyone was in a great mood and it was one the of the best Christmas memories of the season. Funny how things work out.