Christmas is almost upon us. Some folks are frantically trying to finish their Christmas shopping while others haven't even started yet. Some might be distracted by watching the endless new Hallmark Christmas movies, and others may be stressing about what to cook for Christmas dinner. Whatever your mindset, these stories may keep you from taking yourself so seriously while helping you actually enjoy the season.
One woman could not quit laughing as she remembered last year's Christmas gathering at her parents' house.
"Our family has a tradition of dressing up in crazy Christmas attire for our Christmas Eve family gathering," says Katy Billings. "Last year, my parents had just moved into their new home and had not met their neighbors yet. All of the adult children came home for the Christmas Eve celebration that year. My brother came to the party in short elf shorts with no shirt so he could show off his guns.
"At some point during the evening, his new puppy got outside. My brother ran out the door to chase after the puppy, whose name is Powder. The dog ended up going into a neighbor's house down the street, and my brother bounded into the kitchen after him, much to the surprise of the neighbors. He looked up at their shocked faces, held out his hand and introduced himself, said the puppy belonged to him and apologized. Right behind him was my father — also in tacky attire — profusely apologizing to his new neighbors. I am happy to report that the neighbors are now great friends. We can't talk about that incident without losing it in laughter all over again. It was a hysterical moment."
Another friend recalled the time she and her family went to buy their Christmas tree.
"We always go as a family to pick out our tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving," says Linay Rogers. "We picked out the perfect tree and were headed home singing and having a really good time. My husband pulled straight into the garage, and we heard this horrible sound. Both of us looked at each other and realized we just pulled into the garage with the tree on top of the car.
"Our daughter was very distraught, thinking the tree she had just picked out was ruined. As my husband tried to back out of the garage, it became clear that he could not back out without seriously damaging the garage door because the tree was lodged in the door. He ended up having to cut it out of the garage door. The funniest part is, we almost did the exact same thing the following year."
I've had my own mishaps, too. Probably 10 years ago, I was so proud of myself for getting my Christmas shopping done early. I wrapped the presents and hid them, but when I went to get them, I realized I had not labeled the presents. I had no idea what went to whom. I had to unwrap every present. To keep that from happening again, I have resolved to wait until the last minute to shop for Christmas.
More than likely, we all remember holiday moments gone awry that didn't seem very funny at the time, but looking back makes us fall out in laughter. Regardless of what you have planned for Christmas, don't let the unexpected calamities steal your joy. Although it may not seem funny in the moment, take a deep breath and realize that you just may laugh about it in the future. Looking for the joy in those everyday moments can make for great holiday memories.
Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of family advocacy nonprofit First Things First. Contact her at email@example.com.