Christmas is less than one week away and the anticipation is in the air. Some people can’t wait for it to get here while others can’t wait for it to be over. Some people may even experience both of these emotions. As a matter of fact, some of the very things that make us anticipate Christmas may also cause us to want it to be over. Much of our anticipation has to do with things that are going on in our life currently. Our situation has a great impact on the season.

Why do we view things so differently? Why can Christmas not get here fast enough for some and why can it not pass quickly enough for others? How can the same thing bring joy for one and dread for another? If we stop and examine it for a moment, we will see a few specific things that can bring both joy and dread. It might allow us to relate to people a little better during the season

When I was a kid I waited with great anticipation of the gifts I was going to receive. Some things I had asked for. Other things were a surprise. The anticipation of opening those gifts and enjoying what I had wished for was at times overwhelming. I found myself peaking in closets looking for hidden gifts or shaking presents under the tree all in the anticipation of finally being able to see it and use it.

As an adult, I have also seen times when gifts brought me dread. There have been times when financial pressure made it difficult to provide the way I wanted to and to get what other people wanted. There have been times when relationship strains made giving and receiving difficult. As I have gotten older, I have wondered about my parent’s experience and how they may have felt and the pressure they may have been under. It helped me appreciate what I had received and the stress it may have caused them at times.

Christmas is one of the few times our entire family gets together during the year. We often say that Christmas Eve is our favorite night of the year. We enjoy a meal and exchanging gifts and the conversations that so rarely get shared. We laugh at new stories and old memories. Seeing our family can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the season.

It can also be one of the most difficult parts of the season. Sometimes relationships are strained. Something has happened in a relationship and restoration and forgiveness have not been experienced so tensions can be high. Other times significant people are missing. Some may have jobs that keep them away, while death and divorce take away others. These missing people add weight to family gatherings. Occasionally it is talked about. Other times it is ignored and people have to deal with it in their own way. Either way, family gatherings can cause us to want the Christmas season to be over.

I love to travel. I love to see the world and have no problem taking off to just about anywhere. I would consider it our hobby. Things that other people spend their money on such as hunting or racing or sports, we spend on travel. I look for ways to travel as often as I can. Most of our family lives close by so the most we have to travel is a couple of hours, but many years we take a family vacation around Christmas, and at the very least Barbara and I go somewhere and enjoy a few days away.

On the opposite side of that, some people hate to travel. Just driving to the grocery store makes them anxious. They prefer to stay home and only leave when necessary. Even those who are not averse to traveling often find it frustrating because of the cost or discomfort of it. I have to go here or I have to be there can put pressure on people that makes them dread the holidays.

There are other reasons why people get excited about or dread the Christmas season. No matter which side you find yourself on this year, maybe this will be a starter in helping you appreciate the joys and struggles of other people around you.

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