I am the Dancing Elaine Benice of Christmas.
Actually, I’m the Dancing Elaine Benice of lots and lots of things. Off beat, awkward, and totally in my own world.
To me, Christmas has always been a kind of dance of social awkwardness. If everyone else at Christmas is Cary Grant and Grace Kelley, I’m Elaine.
I just don’t do American Christmas quite right. Oh I’m there! All in! I love me some Christmas. Tinsel! 1980s electricity-sucking lead-paint lights. Fudge. Church. Mariah Carey. Fingers crossed that this will be the year we sing Mariah Carey songs at church. I’m all in, Day After Halloween until New Years! But I do it…just a little bit.. off.
I am no good at choosing gifts. I’ve never sent a Christmas card. (I know what you’re thinking. “Get Out!!”) My clothes never match and are rarely clean. I frost cookies but… really my kids do it. And my kids are five…
My tree looks like the 1980s vomited it into my living room (which is actually what we were going for. #WonderYears). My ornaments are made of cotton balls and googly eyes.
I am Elaine. Full on, committed, totally crazily… off beat in a room full of Grace Kelleys. And loving it.
It’s a very kid-friendly Christmas at my house. That’s what I’m going with. #Kid-friendly. This handy little hashtag has magically made it okay for me to be the house where people drop their masks. The random laundry and popsicle sticks and legos all over means people come here to pour themselves their own delicious caffeine in my kitchen in a huge mismatched mug and know right where to find the Hazelnut creamer in my serve-yourself fridge. And they know where to find the Old Fashioned Heavy Whipping Cream, too. Because here… calories totally count… and we consume them anyway. We don’t fool around. Half our visitors don’t knock, and when they do, it’s just to figure out if we are inside or in the yard.
Just like J.Lo. hahaha.
When we decided to get out of debt, the things we did and the way we looked changed. We didn’t buy extravagant gifts for everyone in the world. We didn’t pile gifts under our tree. (We wouldn’t have ever done that anyway; it’s just not my gig. Starving People in China and whatnot). Instead we made BACON CHEESE BREAD for our friends and family. Deciding to get out of debt catapulted us out of the Consumer Game for good. And the “How do I Look” Game. And the “Do People Think We Are Successful?” Game. And the “I feel guilty about x y and z so I need to buy stuff” game.
But the byproduct… was that, when people came to our house, they could remove themselves from those games, too. Turns out #Kid-Friendly actually means #humanity-friendly. Women can come to my home and bawl their little eyes out over all the heart-hurts in their lives or their big wins on any given day. When we started getting out of debt, I dropped Facebook et. al. so I wouldn’t spend my days looking at what other people were doing with their #BlessedLives and #BestHusbands, so I don’t have that subconscious impulse to also have a #BetterHusbandThanEveryoneBecauseHeTakesDuckFaceSelfiesWithMe.
People can tell me their sucky stuff because… my house looks kinda sucky. I mean… It’s wonderful and beautiful and we are really blessed-without-the-hashtag but I go to great lengths to make sure it NEVER looks like a magazine (HAHAHAHAHAHA. It’s hard work to be so unimpressive). And if people are willing to tell me their sucky stuff because they feel comfy with me, then we can build an authentic relationship. And we can authentically encourage one another to be more like Christ. Just like Real Church.
I never want to act in a way that makes people feel like they’re not up to my standards. So I keep low standards 😉 Kids can come to my house and make messes! And our kids can learn to figure out their differences together! And we have boxes to play with! Boxes! Like… with nothing in them.
I do clean my house. I do pick up stuff. It’s not trashed. But if Martha Stewart came for coffee… she’d have a list. It’d be long. (But “crappy coffee” wouldn’t be on it!! #priorities)
And guys can come over and see that my awesome husband installed all of our flooring, including carpet, by himself! And it looks NOT TOO BAD! Because we went into it not caring if it came out perfect. Because we wanted the experience and pride of saying “we (slash he) did that ourselves (slash himself… I like to get a little credit since I fetched hammers and brought coffee).” But my awesome husband isn’t #BetterThanYourHusband (which I’m convinced is what #BestHusbandEver actually means). He’s perfect for me and I love his awesomeness! But spoiler alert: He’s a human. So am I. And we’ve had our share of poop pies #TheHelp. Let’s just be real.
The journey of getting out of debt put the final stamp on our family of “Unimpressively Real.” Because we didn’t have any plastic with which to buy… plastic. And all our cash went to initially, giving & debt, and now it goes to giving & investments. There’s no time in the future where we anticipate “extra” money going to status symbols for the sake of status (for us it’d be Cadillacs. hahaha. They’re great for some people. But for us, I’d just feel TOO FREAKING COOL AND PUT TOGETHER AND DESERVING AND NOT BROKEN driving one… and maybe I’m wrong but I feel like that’s not really like Jesus.)
I never feel sad for not buying my kid some large plastic green dinosaur machine thing that screams when you push a button and poops out a plastic bouncy ball — which is what my four year old asked for. I don’t feel bad for not assembling Ulta gift bags for all my #bffs.
Because to date, the best gift I figure I can give is the gift of Heavy Whipping Cream and the promise of a gag order!
And isn’t that kind of what Jesus wants? I mean it’s His birthday. Loving us up, sitting in His company; loving each other, being real, not comparing, not making people jealous of us, not acting like we are perfect and everyone else should be acting that way too. Turns out, I’m actually totally ridiculous, broken, and a horrible dancer.
Just… walking in the Freedom to be Real. Even if everyone else at the party laughs at our dance moves. 🙂 🙂 Because I guarantee– there’s someone on the wall wanting to dance too, but afraid they’re not good enough. Let’s make a place where everybody gets to dance. 🙂