You know, Christmas is a funny thing.

It is supposed to be the hap-happiest time of the year!  And parts of it can be!  But it’s all those in between the hap-happiest moments that aren’t all that fun.  The holidays, as much as we love them, can make anyone feel like they are going crazy.

At The Exchange this month, we talked about “how to have a stress free December”, only to come up with the conclusion that we aren’t even really sure how to do that!  (Unless maybe, you no longer have young children, money is no object, you have all the time in the world and everyone you are with always agrees with everything you want to do!) We shared that we can plan and prepare and prep it all in advance and do everything “the experts” tell us will ensure a picture perfect holiday.  But inevitably, something happens that causes stress.  It might be expectations that were unmet.  It might be a relationship disappointment. It might be an ungrateful gift receiver.  It might be a family member that is spreading complaints instead of good cheer.

For me, this year, it was Amazon Prime.  Let me just say that normally, AP is my friend.  We’ve always had a great relationship.  Even though we keep Christmas presents minimal, with eight children, it still requires a lot of effort and time!  Especially for a non-shopping, non-good-at-gift-giving type of person.  (Yep, that would be me.)

But it’s Christmas time, so I persevered and contacted Amazon Prime like an old faithful friend.  With PLENTY of time for the gifts to arrive, I might add.

Yet here I sit, two days before Christmas – on what my family affectionally refers to as Christmas Adam – the day before Christmas Eve. (It’s a corny Bible joke for those that don’t get it) When what, to my wondering eyes should appear?  The dreaded emails from Amazon so kindly letting me know that the gifts I purchased, will NOT arrive for Christmas.  Some of the gifts couldn’t be fulfilled, while others will get here, but just not in time! Wh-WH-at?  Are you kidding me? Now what am I supposed to do?  Go fight traffic, just to stand in long lines, listening to people complain, so that I can buy something in the wrong size, that my kid doesn’t even want in an effort to have something he can unwrap on Christmas morning? Not exactly my idea of a hap-happy time. I was convinced that Amazon Prime is trying to ruin my Christmas. Trying to steal my joy.

But not this year! Not today!

You know why? In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter!  I doubt my kids even remember what they got for Christmas last year!  And besides that, I don’t need to control the outcome!  I don’t need to manufacture an end result or even their happiness! (Did you catch that?) Things do NOT have to go as I have planned.

What I am learning is the more I plan and want to control what I PERCEIVE to be the picture perfect Christmas (although it makes me FEEL in control), actually makes me more anxious.  More stressed out. And it is setting me up for failure because there are too many factors that can affect the end results.

And in an effort to control the outcome that I think is perfect, I am not going to let the unmet expectations of Amazon Prime ruin my Christmas.  So instead of black jogger pants that fit him, there is nothing wrong with a grey sweatshirt he can grow into.  Instead of a saxophone that is suppose to play REAL music, a plastic Fisher Price saxophone will add laughter and memories for years to come. Instead of a money maze puzzle that has to be unlocked to find the cash that is ultimately wanted by all my teenagers, an old fashioned scavenger hunt will bring out the kid in all of them.

I am not upset with Amazon Prime.  They actually gave me a gift this Christmas.  The gift of shifting my mindset.  The gift of reminding me that I do NOT need to control the outcome.  (I am not in control anyway!) The gift of reminding me to live freed up from the stress of the holidays, so that I can enjoy the people in front of me, being FULLY PRESENT in the moment.  The gift of reminding me to let go of what won’t last, so I have room in my heart to focus on what does.

Thank you Amazon Prime.  I’m glad we are friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  – Elizabeth