Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Ghost of Christmas Disappointment

“And be thankful…with gratitude in your hearts…”
                                                          Colossians 3:16

Genuine thankfulness and gratitude go hand in hand. I often struggle with these. I find it easier to focus on things that aren’t or didn’t work out as planned. Let me share with you my encounter with The Ghost of Christmas Disappointment.

I remember an incident from a Christmas over fifty year ago as if it was yesterday. We visited my grandmother a few days before The Big Event. As we left her apartment she presented each of us three children with a gift. Hers were always something special. On the ride home my sister, brother and I feverishly fingered our packages for clues to their contents. After much poking and prodding I had an alarming revelation. My present was a hanger!

I shared my discovery in a less than enthusiastic tone. My complaint wasn’t well received by my parents; something about needing to be grateful. My brother howled with laughter. My sister, sullen and silent realized she had suffered the same fate.

My worst fear was confirmed on Christmas morning. My brother, John, got a really cool Dick Tracy machine gun complete with sound effects. My sister Patty and I got fancy padded satin hangers. I felt so disappointed no, make that cheated. What kind of gift is a hanger? My poor grandmother was probably perplexed at what to buy her two young granddaughters; she’d raised two boys. My mother tried her best to convince my sister and me that these were very special gifts, especially for hanging up our favorite dresses. “Bah humbug” was my silent response. They ranked right up there with socks and underwear.

I sent my grandmother the obligatory Thank You note and not one word I wrote contained an ounce of gratitude. I’m amazed that even now I can close my eyes and relive the whole event. When it comes to remembering things I should be grateful for, I can draw a blank quickly.

There is a group of people who drive me crazy. You’ve met them. Their smile is permanently etched on their face. Looking at the world through rose colored glasses, they find the best in any situation. They exude thankfulness and gratitude. I despise them. Why? I wish I was just like them. These people were hard-wired, straight from the factory with sunny, optimistic and thankful personalities. The workers must have been on break when I came through the line. Maintaining a thankful, grateful disposition requires concentrated effort on my part.

‘Tis the season for resolutions, changes to make to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. For me, this year, being thankful and grateful top the list. Who knows, this year may be the time to dispel the Ghost of Christmas Disappointment and morph into one of “those people”…not a bad idea.


  1. Thank you for sharing this memory. It makes me think about disappointments in general. For me, sometimes my expectations are just that MINE. I don't always realize that the person I view as responsible for my disappointment is not guilty of anything but doing their best. Happy New Year to your and yours.

  2. I too know how easy it is to go there feeling I had been bypassed by the Christmas spirit in a Santa Claus ho ho ho kind of way. My families, past and present, have never had the luxury of being able to buy expensive gifts at Christmas. I have always dreaded having people ask me what I got for Christmas, even today.

    But this year, perhaps for the first time, I felt a certain richness that came through our low-key Christmas celebrations. I enjoyed all of the activities at church, then went home to our very quiet, sparsely decorated home and reflected on the Christ Child's birth in a nasty drafty stable. I also considered the poverty of millions of people all around the globe, and realized just how rich I was to have a warm house with a warm bed to sleep in.

    Our choir sang this song as part of our Christmas cantata. Perhaps it will speak to your heart as it did to mine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQan9L3yXjc

  3. Oh Mary! LOL, yes, I'd feel humbuggish too if my grandmothers had given me a hanger as a gift! I typically got $3 or a cheap candy-filled mesh stocking from one (which though cheap was exciting as my parents would NEVER buy me one of those) and a homemade jumper or blouse from the other. Sometimes you have to search for something to be grateful for; maybe the gift itself was not a blessing, but the love and attention from the giver is, or the fact that the giver is alive and involved in your life.

    (P.S. I found you on my discussion about blogs on LinkedIn.)