For more than 25 years I was Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, and all the elves. I fought the shopping malls and the traffic. Christmas depended on me from the right shirt size to the consistency of the gravy. I was the creator of Christmas for my family, and I was weary under the burden.
One year in early November I suddenly realized that Christmas was upon me again. But I was too exhausted to face another major production. I asked myself, “What does all this work and stress have to do with the birth of the Savior?” Something was wrong. I had grown to hate Christmas. I seriously contemplated what would happen if I stepped out of Christmas. What if I left the front lines? Would Christmas happen? Would my family forgive me?
For my own survival, I retired. I stepped off the Christmas stage where I had been the star for so long. I made a small list and checked it once. There were fewer presents and limited festivities. And guess what? Christmas came anyway. It was quiet, peaceful. There was time to feel the season. Christmas was in the air. It was in my heart. I thought about Christ.
I have to admit that I worried about the reaction of my family. Some were disappointed. But there was more time to visit with each other, more time to appreciate the gifts we opened. Christmas was more spiritual.
I realized that I had suffocated the real spirit of Christmas with all of my own trappings. Why had I assumed such a responsibility—to try to create a celebration to outshine the birth of the Christ child? That seemed sacrilegious now. My new theme for December became “Be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16).
I will never go back. I have finally found the spirit of Christmas. But first I had to find the courage to let go. I had to trust that the spirit of that humble birth over 2,000 years ago would be felt without my efforts. It was, and this was the best of gifts I could have received or given.