Leah York, CAE
"Are You Ready for Christmas?"
Last week I had coffee with a girlfriend, and she asked, “Are you ready for Christmas?”
For some reason that I had yet to truly come to terms with, I found myself hating this question. I ended up taking a large gulp of my Venti three-pump, no whip, white chocolate mocha to avoid answering it!
Even as someone who celebrates Christmas, there is something about “being ready for Christmas” that really bothers me.
“Are you ready for Christmas?” What does that really even mean? Here’s what I think people are actually saying when they ask this question:
Is my home decorated?”
“Do I have presents bought and meticulously wrapped, including those unlabeled hostess gifts for those last-minute party invites?”
Did I go to the bank to get new, crisp $50 bills for my niece and nephew yet?”
“Have I spent time pinning on Pinterest and then trying new casseroles to serve on Christmas morning, going to half a dozen tree farms to find the perfect live Frasier fir, finding the perfect matching Christmas pajamas for my family, or agonizing over whether to serve duck, turkey or prime rib for my family’s Christmas Eve yet?”
That’s what I think my friend meant when she asked me if I was “ready for Christmas”. Had I bought all of the things and prepared all of the things and decorated all of the things she thought I would as a person who celebrates Christmas?
She didn’t mean to irritate me over coffee. But she, or at least her question, did.
Is this really what we are focused on when it comes to the Christmas spirit - all these trivial things? Is that what Christmas is all about?
I really don’t think it is.
When I was eight years old and told my dad I had discovered Santa isn’t real, he told me, “Of course he is. Santa is the spirit of Christmas – of appreciating and giving – inside all of us.” Many decades later, he has still never admitted there’s not a Santa. To my father, Santa represents the spirit of Christmas and I’ve found myself agreeing with him.
If I had understood what I understand now after really digging deep inside about why I hate the question “are you ready for Christmas?”, here’s what I would have said to my friend:
Am I ready for Christmas? Absolutely, I am! And, also I am absolutely not. But you know what? In the most important ways, I’ll be ready for Christmas on January 1, March 24, October 7, and November 12. Why? Because each day, from the moment I wake up to when I finally go to bed, I do my very best to be ready and welcoming to the spirit of Christmas.
I am so fortunate to have always had everything I’ve needed and most of what I’ve wanted. I’m grateful for all of the intangible gifts I’ve been given in my life. I live a life of joy, seeking purpose in all I do. I don’t need to wait for the Christmas season to embrace my abundance mentality. I welcome Christmas, and the feelings the holiday carries with it, daily.
But, if you’re asking if I’ve printed, hand-signed and sent my Christmas cards to everyone that sent me one like I’m supposed to, have my Christmas gifts bought and wrapped under the tree in adorable reindeer wrapping paper with perfect red bows, and have the ingredients already purchased and premeasured to make Lippy’s Roll-Out Cookies – a third-generation recipe? - I most certainly am not!
I am focused on building a business of purpose and impact, spending quality time with the people I love, and avoiding things that are frivolous and stressful so I can savor all of the good in my life that’s happening each and every day.
So, I’m ready for Christmas; just probably not the way you think I would be! Does that answer your question?
But, instead of saying all of that, I sipped my mocha and moved on with my full and productive day.
I hope together you and I can do better! If you’re like me and find yourself feeling the pressures and stressors of the holiday season (either from your own self-imposed expectations or from a harmless question over coffee with a friend), I invite you to join me in abandoning the concept of being “ready for Christmas” one month out of the year.
Let’s focus less on being ready for one day out of the year and instead commit together to welcome the spirit of Christmas daily. Not with decorations, perfectly orchestrated dinner parties, and endless gifts, but being ready for the things that matter.
I’ll be saying “no” to being “ready for Christmas” and “absolutely yes” to agreeing with my father that Santa – or the spirit of Christmas – is alive and real. I am saying “yes” to living a life full of intention, appreciation, and unfiltered joy each and every day. I hope you’ll join me.