I WILL . . . cease trying to do all things and be
all things to all people during the holiday season.
Some may not see that's how I feel, but there's something deep inside (the pleaser gene?) that causes me to want to please everyone and not disappoint. First, I'm sure no one can please everyone all the time. Second, I know without a doubt I've disappointed someone at one time or another, just as some have disappointed me from time to time. It's human, mostly unintentional, and often unavoidable.
In my desire to please others, I sometimes ignore my own desires. At the very least, I put myself on the back burner. I was taught to do that and told it was selfish to do what I wanted to do when I should be doing what others wanted and expected of me. This year, as in years past, there were things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, and even cookies I wanted to bake - left undone - partly because I didn't plan far enough ahead, but also due to the fact I was trying to make Christmas special for a long-time friend who doesn't seem like much of a friend these days.
One of the things I'll cut back on for future holiday seasons is providing gifts for - or making Christmas for - someone I used to be close to but have rarely seen or spoken to for years. I have a friend, though I now use that term loosely, who never married or had children. She has no siblings or close relatives. She lives alone on a big farm with her three horses, two dogs, and more cats than she can count. She used to lament that she was very lonely and hated going home to an empty house after the Christmas Eve candlelight service. She said there were never any presents under her tree and her stocking was always empty, so I took her on as my personal Christmas project and began to provide gifts, cookies, stocking stuffers, and doggy toys/treats each Christmas so she would know someone cared. That was about 15 years ago and I continued to make a "Santa Run" every Christmas Eve, even though I now attend a different church and rarely see or hear from her. There was no "falling out", just a parting of ways through the years.
I am a firm believer in the adage it's more blessed to give than to receive. I will always believe that, but when is enough, enough? I rushed to find the gifts I'd tucked away for my farm friend, rushed to wrap them, was puzzled as to what to get her dogs this year, and couldn't find the large Christmas gift bag I was sure I had stashed away for that very night. There I was on Christmas Eve, trying to get ready to attend the candlelight service at my own church, yet frantically working on this array of gifts for a person I no longer feel is a close friend. I had to ask myself, WHY am I doing this since the joy has gone out of it for me?
So....I decided this was the last Santa Run for this friend. She's in a much better place financially than she was years ago and has surrounded herself with other friends, so she's no longer alone on holidays. I still care about her, but something needs to change and I know it has to be me, but how do I extricate myself from this tradition? I'll write my former friend a heartfelt letter around Thanksgiving time and let her down gently. I'd rather do that than leave her wondering what happened.
I'll continue to give gifts at Christmas time. I love giving gifts. I simply think this particular tradition has run it's course. If this person was homebound, destitute, or had major health challenges, that would be different, but she is very able to work on her farm and travel wherever she chooses. In fact, she wasn't even home when we delivered her Santa gifts this year although it was around midnight. I think I'm trying to justify my decision in order to keep from feeling guilty about it, but so be it.
The bottom line is, I much prefer offering my time and funds to someone who truly needs them and who might not have other avenues of help. For some, this might not seem like a big decision, or a particularly difficult one, but it is for me. I've done what I felt was expected of me for all these years and it's simply time to make some changes. When I offer gifts, I want them to be given from my heart rather then out of obligation. Stay tuned....more changes coming.