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Revelations: My grinch stole Christmas

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 30, 2011 at 6:30 a.m.
Updated Jan. 5, 2012 at 7:06 p.m.


For the past several weeks, I’ve been in a foul mood – a regular Christmas grinch. It’s unusual for me to be a brooding, moaning, partypooper during the holidays because it’s my favorite time of year. But this year, the joy of my season was crippled by a case of the grumbles. Because of the demise of a recent relationship (and the Christmas travel plans organized around it), I knew I wouldn’t be spending time with my family in Atlanta until after Christmas. And as much as I love the Advocate, spending Christmas Eve and Christmas at the office isn’t exactly merry – at least that’s what I was telling myself.

Rather than pausing to reflect on the many blessings around me, and the provision the Lord has allowed me this year, I internalized my grumbles, and gave them permission to fester. And just like a toxic, untreated cancer, they eventually surfaced, and spewed out on everyone around me. Unfortunately, it did so on Christmas Eve. I admit, I was the anti-Christmas.

The worst part is, I could have easily taken a few minutes to sit down, relax and spend time in prayer. I could have asked the Lord to help me sort through what was bothering me and asked for change of heart and mind. I could have taken a few minutes to notice my family and friends, some hundreds of miles away, were calling, texting, mailing, emailing and sending their Christmas love to me in legions, so I would not feel forgotten and alone.

But I didn't see that. I didn't want to.

After spending Christmas Eve at a wreck site in the rain, missing church and my family, I just wanted the weekend to be over. Determined to have a good night, I slapped a smile on my rain-soaked face, and joined a friend and his family for a cozy dinner at his house. We sat around the living room with his in-laws, and feasted on the best home-cooked meal I've had in a while.

And because I'd missed church that night, another friend of mine asked if I'd join him at St. Mary's midnight Mass. I may have been the only non-Catholic in the sanctuary - wide-eyed for congregational cues about when to sit and stand and noticeably fumbling through the liturgical utterances - but it was wonderful to be in the presence of God and his people that night, listening to the church choir sing about the divine birth. I can't explain how much I needed that moment; how much I needed to remember what Christmas is about.

The following Christmas morning, I awoke feeling less grumpy, but still experiencing some residual grinchyness.

As I walked out to my car on the way to work, I asked God to soothe my heart, and give me the temperament of a godly child.

About an hour later, I walked into Fat Albert's BBQ and Ice House in Yoakum, and saw a restaurant full of "Christmas orphans." The meal was prepared for homeless and needy families, and for those who couldn't be with their families on Christmas.

I'm not sure if it was the people I interviewed (one in particular who had no family at all) or the Christmas spirit overflowing from the restaurant, but I left the assignment feeling abundantly blessed and loved by God, and my family. I felt lucky to be employed at a job that I love, and fortunate to be traveling home in a few days to have a Preyss family Christmas.

God allowed me the perspective I needed to get my attitude straight. He stole my grinch, so I could have back my Christmas.

Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jlpreyss@vicad.com.

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