TIME OUT WITH LOIS: What’s your attitude about Christmas this year?

 My first Christmas card this year was a painting of a frontier family bundled up in a horse-drawn sleigh riding through snow-covered hills. The inside said, “Enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas!” Well, yes, but ... br-r-rr ... and does that mean I will only get an orange in my stocking? 

Lois Olmstead

Then at lunch in a local cafe, I overheard someone say, “Christmas is so commercialized. I can’t even enjoy it anymore!” Certainly times have changed. That in itself is not wrong. A family does not have to give up all gift-giving and entertaining in order to keep the real meaning of Christmas. To have only mittens and socks under the tree (or a lonely orange in a stocking) does not guarantee a spiritual holiday filled with joy and peace.

One of the traditions in our family is giving funny gifts. He-Who and I got a recipe box with real chicken feet and a soup recipe inside at our first married Bohleen Christmas. We were both in college. The tag said, “Heard times are tough! Hope this helps!” 

One gift I will never forget. I was taking lessons at a ceramic shop. Lots of fun gals were in the weekly classes, including my new daughter-in-law, Lisa, and her mother. I was making a Nativity set. I had commented on many occasions how I loved the unique ceramic pieces in the shop. But I also often said how much I hated the poured-out, look-alike, awful matched kitchen sets, those napkin holders, scrubby-holders, canisters, salt and pepper shakers and spoon racks and more. 

Now don’t be offended if you treasure one of these “lovely” sets. In my blue and white kitchen, the lime-green, cutesy, aproned, doll-faced dough girl stuff would not fit. “It would be so far down on my list,” I quipped more than once, “it wouldn’t even show up!”

Well, close to Christmas, we decided to have a party and gift exchange. We drew names. The night of the party, I was delighted to see that Lisa had drawn my name when I opened the card on my beautifully wrapped gift. As I was opening it she said, “I didn’t get it all done. But I am planning on finishing the rest for you later.” I looked inside.

“Oh-h-h-h-h-h, oh-h-h-h-h-h.” I just kept saying it over and over. I didn’t know what else to do ... or say. There in the tissue paper was a napkin holder, lime-green doll-face, apron and all. I giggled. This had to be a joke. I looked at Lisa and her mom and everyone else. They were all just smiling and saying “Oh, How nice.” 

I sobered up. Maybe it wasn’t a joke. “Oh-h-h-h-h.”

I had what seemed like hours of intense anxiety before they finally erupted into peals of laughter joining my nervous giggles. And though I never want to go through that trying to figure out what to say nice about something I didn’t want from someone I love, I will never forget the gift. 

The best part was seeing that Lisa felt good enough about our relationship as daughter-in-law and mother-in-law that she could pull such a joke — that was the best gift of all. (And no, I didn’t keep the lime-green stuff — and Lisa said that was OK!)

What is your attitude about Christmas this year? Excited? Tired? Worried? It is our attitude about Christmas that is important and our actions that result from our attitudes.

Let’s ask for a major dose of inspiration and appreciation this Christmas. This year I am determined to see the light and love of Christ in Christmas with joy. I know that is what He-Who would want for me and our family. We can let the true meaning of Christmas shine around us — by sharing joy to others. Is that not what the angels said to the shepherds on those hills outside Bethlehem? Read Luke 2:8-9 this week.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Lois Olmstead is an inspirational speaker and author who lives in the Shields Valley. Email her at loiso@wispwest.net or visit www.timeoutwithlois.com.