Adults groan at the first hint of Christmas.

A few years ago, donned in shorts and a t-shirt to beat the Memorial Day heat, we walked into Hobby Lobby. They were putting up Christmas. “There oughta be a law,” I muttered.

Christmas comes much too soon for most credit cards and bank accounts to handle. Invitations for competing events arrive in email boxes (today, at least). Malls become holiday sardine cans of impatient and pushy shoppers.

Our Christmas tree looks like it ate a soured gingerbread house and vomited gifts all over the living room. And there are still things to buy and wrap.

When did Christmas become a bother?

I have four grandchildren ranging from 6 months to 6 years. The youngest doesn’t care, and the oldest has that sense of familiarity with Christmas.

But the two middle ones—the two-year-old and three-year-old—have the Christmas glisten of falling snowflakes. Everything is new. The 3-year-old has touched every present and begged to open them all now. We have scolded, swatted hands, but laugh at the wonder.

The two are at the right age. The question “why” comes out of toddler’s mouths. So, let’s listen to a child and our Christmas dilemma.

“I am so tired.”

Why?

“Because I have had to work so hard getting things and trying to think up what to buy everybody.”

Why?

“Because they will be disappointed if they don’t get what they want.”

Why?

“Because people love Christmas.”

Why?

“Because we love each other.”

Then, stop and listen to what a child might say. “If you love me that much, why are you so miserable at Christmas?”

It’s a good question. We are worn out, stressed out, cranky, and Scroogish once December 25th. Some want to put on a bathrobe, get a cup of coffee, and wash down headache medicine to make it through.

Again, the child asks, “why?” Why don’t you enjoy it? Why are you so tired? Why don’t you have time?

The truth is:

A child knows more about Christmas than an adult.

I don’t have answers, and I don’t even pretend to be a therapist. (In fact, many times I need one more than play one.)

I have learned that as adults, we inherit our Christmas feeling from the adults in our lives. We inherit an emotional vinyl album with a scratch on it. As we play it each Christmas, we get stuck in all the hard things.

That record sounds like this:

  • The tree has to be perfect.
  • The gifts are to be more than they want, and they always need more than they ask for.
  • Each gift must be exquisite in the perfect paper.
  • The meal has to be on china with silver, which always needs polishing.
  • Everyone must have their favorite food to eat.
  • When Christmas comes, collapse. It’s the proof of perfection.

We need to watch the toddler fingering the balsam branches. He doesn’t have a list, and she doesn’t expect perfection. He or she wants a parent or grandparent to take them by the hand and look at the miracle of people loving each other.

Stand and admire the Mickey Mouse blowup in the yard. Go to the Christmas movie. Spend time with others, even if people don’t get more gifts. Decide enough is too much.

When we exchange spending our money for spending our lives, Santa becomes Scrooge.

Ignore Amazon, Macy’s, and your mother’s obsessions. Look at the twinkle of the lights and see Christmas as a child would.

Have a Merry Childfelt Christmas!