Michelle Martin

Bah humbug. (Not really)

December 5, 2018

This is for all the Christmas grumps.

The Grinches and the Scrooges and the ones who just can’t take hearing “The Little Drummer Boy” one more time. Or “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

I’m not one of those people. Not usually, at least. I can find enough to like in the seemingly endless round of shopping and parties and shopping and baking and shopping and wrapping that I don’t hate Christmas. Most of the time, I even enjoy it.

But there have been times when I hated Christmas, hated the decorating and the school programs and the wrapping and the shopping. The year Frank was born, for example.

That was 18 years ago, and I can talk about it now. That year we had a new baby born less than four weeks before Christmas, a 2½-year-old who was just old enough to really be aware of Santa and plans to celebrate with both sets of grandparents and extended family.

When you have a new baby, everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps, which never really works well — adults weren’t meant to sleep in two-hour bursts at random times of the day or night — but when there’s a toddler, too, that goes completely out the window. And you can’t even take a toddler who knows about Santa with you for much of the Christmas shopping.

An infant and a toddler make putting up a Christmas tree take about four times as long as it should, what with stopping to feed them, stopping to change them, extricating delicate ornaments from the toddler’s hands, removing her from a perch on the top of the ladder — you get the idea.

I think it was the day we finished putting up the tree (and yes, it took more than one day) that I looked up and said, “I hate Christmas.”

Because now that we had the dang tree up, all I could think was that in another couple of weeks, I’d have to take it down.

To be clear, I didn’t hate the Incarnation. I didn’t hate that God became human. I didn’t hate the Nativity, or that Jesus arrived in this world as a vulnerable neonate without a warm, safe place to call home.

I didn’t hate the hope that we are called to, or the peace and joy that are supposed to be the hallmark of the season. I was just having a hard time finding them, mixed in with everything else, and with an unhealthy dose of sleep deprivation.

Over the years, the kids got older and we got better at limiting our commitments. We’ve always done a tree (the year it fell over four times is another story), but that’s because I really love looking at all the ornaments and remembering where they came from. We usually make a birthday cake for Jesus to remind all of us why we have this holiday in the first place, and we talk about how Jesus was God’s Christmas gift to the world.

So for all you Christmas curmudgeons, I hope that this year you can find your way to make peace with the holiday, too.


  • christmas
  • family life