Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Christmas Help Wanted


christmas 2007

Image by paparutzi via Flickr

#4 called me tonight.

“Are you in the Christmas Spirit yet?”

“No.” I snorted derisively. “Are you?”

“No.” She sobbed quietly for several moments. “Why don’t we get the spirit anymore?”

Okay, maybe our conversation didn’t go exactly like that. But I had the answer. (Big sisters always have an answer, don’t they? Unless they don’t.)

“Because we stopped believing in Santa and had to be Santa.”

So why don’t we get in the Christmas Spirit? Mama was always the first one to catch it. I remember one year when she bought a picture window sized Nativity Scene, colored it in and painted it with baby oil. It took her hours! Then she hung it in the window, and when the lamp was on behind it, it looked like stained glass.

Other years she created panes in that big piece of glass and made it snow.

She sewed six dresses out of velvet, and often a vest or jacket for Brother Jeffrey. And she did all the Santa shopping, most of it by herself. (In the days before Internet, she worked at it like a job, coming home day after day, long after dark.)

She sang in the church choir, helped with school parties and took Grandmother shopping.

Oh, she made candy, too–fudge, peanut brittle, divinity. (I don’t even know what divinity is.)

So how did Mom get in the Christmas Spirit when my sis and I can’t seem to find it? I’m not real sure. Was it the times? The fact that she didn’t work outside the home? (There truly wasn’t time.) Or was she born blessed with the Christmas Spirit?

I don’t know. But if there’s something you’ve done that helped you get in the Spirit (Carolling? A snowball fight?) would you share it with us?

We need help.

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

20 thoughts on “Christmas Help Wanted

  1. Sadly, it’s a different time. If you want something, you buy it . . . usually on credit. There’s no waiting until Christmas in hopes that you can save up enough money to treat yourself or others. Instant gratification is the name of the game along with commercialism.
    Making homemade gifts has become ‘lame’ because so many people don’t realize how much time, work and love goes into the end product. One year, I crocheted afghans for my family members, many times the yarn for the project cost between $30-50 and that’s not counting my time and effort. My reward as the recipient opened the package was non-existant as all I got was a, ” . . . er, thanks.” as the afghan was tossed aside.
    I make candy now. Just the chocolate for the filled candies costs me $4.65 / pound and I used 15 pounds of it to make 50 lbs of filled candies. This doesn’t count the butter, sugar, various other ingredients to make the fillings and the packaging materials (candy cups, boxes, inserts), or the time (two weeks) and effort to mold 700+ pieces of candy.
    I’m right next to you, Susan, trying to find my Christmas spirit. Sometimes I try to dig deep, but then I come up empty.
    When you find the Christmas Spirit, will you send it my way?

    • Oh my stars, Margaret! I can’t imagine someone taking the time to crochet an afgan for me. That’s a beautiful gift. Hopefully your family members just don’t know how to express the depth of their gratitude.

      I knitted scarves for all my sisters one year, and while I never see any of them wearing the scarves, when I twist my sisters’ arms hard enough, they tell me how much they absolutely adore them. (joking)

      We’re going to have to either find someone who can share the Spirit or figure out a new definition of the word. :}

  2. I think Christmas has such a bad reputation when it comes to gifts and cooking. People seem to stress about everything that they HAVE to do instead of making it something that they WANT to do.
    I also think it has a little to do with the time you have to spend doing all the Christmas prep. I know firstthat hand that poor #4 docent have much.

    • Poor #4 should be twins with all she does. She amazes me! She’s probably too exhausted to feel much of anything this time of year.
      Maybe there should be a secret Christmas celebration a couple of weeks after the real one for people in retail so they can have a little time to get ready.

  3. Boy I really messed up the end of that post. Sorry.
    I’m like a little kid when it comes to Christmas! I can’t wait to decorate my house. Now that I am Santa, I have a very difficult time not giving Braden his gifts right when I get them.

  4. I love love love Christmas. Despite not having the best childhood, my parents made Christmas magical for us. I try to do the same for my children now!

    My kids are little enough that they still believe in Santa & we are still creating Christmas traditions–The Elf on the Shelf, Seeing lights at Rhema, recording every possible Christmas Special, making homemade peppermint ice cream & other treats, helping the needy, constantly listening to Christmas music, reading the Polar Express to my kids, detouring to the Christmas section at the store just so we can see Christmas trees. I really could go on and on.

    We do all of these things with not much extra cash as well! Even after my boys are grown, I plan on still doing these things!

    Last year, a few days before Christmas, we stayed 2 nights at the San Antonio Riverwalk. This was a wonderful Christmas get away–it was warm and beautiful. We can not wait to go again.

    • Oh, I think having small children could be a big help. It’s so much fun when you’re creating the illusion!
      Sounds like you have a lot of fun with those kiddos. Enjoy every moment. It flies by much too quickly.

  5. I wish I could simply turn a switch that would trigger my whole being to be really merry as I used to be when I was younger. I try too for my son who’s enthusiasm about Christmas and its joyful events just inspires me to find that child in me. We all can still believe, sometimes it just takes longer and with more effort. Merry Christmas….

  6. I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels.

    • Oh, I love that movie, too, Danny.
      I’ve been thinking the secret might be to take off the week before Christmas and just watch Christmas movies. White Christmas, Christmas in Connecticutt, The Island of Misfit Toys (Rudolph) Christmas Story.
      Great suggestion!
      Love you, little Danny Donkey!

    • Dan Dan,
      I can hear Grandmommie right now, saying, “Why I’d be ashamed!” Can you hear her? You know I”m just teasing, right?

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  9. i don’t have any problem getting into the spirit at all, i focus on the TRUE reason for Christmas, and the rest (usually) falls into place. i could care less if every gift project/idea fails as long as my family rejoices for the right reasons & my son truly gets it. if you concentrate on the real reason we celebrate Christmas, the rest is just extra & you can’t be disappointed. 🙂

    as for #4, i agree— she doesn’t have much time to enjoy it. i think someone should kidnap her for a week and tell everyone else to just deal with it. 😉


    Well, it is less than a week before Christmas ~ still don’t have a tree up at home, but definitely have the Christmas Spirit! Church services this month have been amazing & the praises we sing to our King, Jesus Christ, seem to sound even more beautiful. Maybe I am just listening a bit more this year, or maybe I have finally learned to be truly thankful for some of the blessings that God has given to me. 🙂

    • Oh, Sharon, I think you’ve found your home. It’s where you belong, isn’t it? If worship service doesn’t touch you, spiritually, you’re probably in the wrong place.
      Ours have been wonderful, too.

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