Finding the Joy in Christmas

Finding the Joy in Christmas

“Stop Striving for Perfection. Strive for JOY!”

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” So, why doesn’t it feel like it?

It’s five days until Christmas. The stockings aren’t hung by the chimney with care. The halls aren’t decked with boughs of holly, fa la la la, NAH. We didn’t take any decorations out of storage because I didn’t want to deal with a newborn and Christmas decorations. Not to mention, I live in Texas and it’s 72 outside, so forgive me if I’m not really feeling the Christmas spirit.

Honestly, I’m not upset about it. I’m just enjoying time with my newborn. But some have judged me for not making Joshua’s first Christmas a big deal.

“You’re not putting up stockings?”

“You’re not at least getting the tree out?”

“What about Christmas pictures? He has to take Christmas pictures!”

Sometimes I wonder if they’re right and if, one day in the future, Joshua is going to ask me where the pictures are of his first Christmas. Will he be upset with me for not having those memories?

Because my son was born this November, a lot of the lullabies I sing him are Christmas songs — O, Holy Night, Joy to the World, and O Come All Ye Faithful, to name a few — and at 2 am when I’m tired beyond belief leaning over the side of his crib singing “oh come let us adore him” for the 30th time, I can’t help but think about Mary singing to 1-month-old baby Jesus as Joseph holds the pillow over his own ears in hopes that he can get just one more hour of sleep.

We all know Mary was a teenager when she got the message from the angel.

“You want me to do WHAT?!?! This is a joke, right?”

That’s what I would be saying if an angel came to me as a teen and told me I was about to carry the Son of God. I’m 26 and barely know what I’m doing with a baby as an adult!

As Christians, we tend to believe that Mary had it all together – as we tend to believe all the other mothers of the world do. Newsflash! Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for 3 whole days when he was 12 (Luke 2:41-52). I don’t know about you, but that right there takes a whole lot of pressure off of my shoulders.

I know what you’re thinking. “Every mother besides me has it all figured out. They have a tree in every room carefully themed to incite the most Christmas magic in their children. The Elf on the Shelf is currently doing backflips through flour in the kitchen. They took their family Christmas pictures in July and were the first in line to see Santa the moment he stepped into the mall on December 1st at 10 am.”

While those mothers probably do exist – Karen – they are probably 1 out of a billion and something it is not necessary to strive for. Your kids do not need every inch of the house decorated. Do not need to be the first in line to see Santa. Do not need a tree in every room of the house or 15 presents per kid to know how much you love them. What is this time of year really about? Family. Love. Fellowship. Jesus.

 This time of year is not meant to stress you out! The song says “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” There are no sad songs about Christ’s birth. We are meant to rejoice about the Good News.

“You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at His birth.”

Luke 1:14

“But the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

Luke 2:10

Mary was a mother figuring it all out, just like you and me. The most important lesson we can take from Mary as a mother is that in all of her anxiety — because she sure did have a lot to be anxious about — she always looked to God. She didn’t complain to the angel when he gave her the message. She didn’t tell God, “No, I can’t do this. Choose someone else. You’ve got the wrong girl.” Instead, she said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38).”

It’s so cool — and terrifying — to think that God chose you to be the mother of your children. He looked at you and thought, “That is the perfect person to take care of Little Johnny and Little Susan. They need this specific mother to raise them up in such a way that they accomplish the plans I have for them.” The All-Knowing God chose you because He knows that YOU’VE GOT THIS!

No matter what time of year it is, when you feel anxious about being the “perfect” mother, just remember Mary and her strength during what was one of the scariest things she ever had to do. Take comfort that God had a plan for her and He has a plan for you, as well. Rejoice that when times are hard, God will help you through, just like He helped Mary.

Simplifying the Holidays:

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I know it’s going to be hard, but I would like to encourage you, Mom, to simplify Christmas. What are you doing too much of that is making this time of year the most dreadful? What can you cut back on to allow yourself to enjoy every moment? Your kids will only have this year’s Christmas once. On December 26, will you be able to look back at this month’s memories and say you enjoyed it or that you were counting down the days to put the tree back in the attic?

Here’s an activity you can do with your kids. Ask them to make a list of the top 3 most important traditions you do in December. Now ask them to make a list of 3 things they have grown out of or don’t look forward to doing this time of year. Even though it’s probably too late to cut back on things this year, this will help you begin to let go of things for next year.

My three most favorite traditions are making M&M cookies at my parents’ house, finding a large candy cane in my stocking, and watching Hallmark Christmas movies with my mom. Those are the most important traditions to me this time of year!

In terms of simplifying, I simplified the gifts. My husband and I haven’t bought Christmas gifts for each other in two years. I handmade all Joshua’s aunt, uncle, and grandparent presents this year, which I absolutely love doing. Not having to worry about spending hundreds of dollars on presents and getting the perfect gift for all 20 people on our list is exactly what my husband and I felt we needed to cut back on to thoroughly enjoy this holiday again. We wanted our Christmas memories to be about quality time with the family rather than stressing about having enough money for bills and presents.

My husband and I decided we wanted this time of year to be about Jesus and family. In a few years, we will start taking Joshua to volunteer in soup kitchens after Christmas. I want this time of year to be about giving, not getting, for him and our family.

When my son is an adult and has his own family and I ask him what the most important Christmas traditions for him were, I don’t want him to say, “opening presents and standing in line for Santa.” I want his favorite memories to be about Jesus, family, and giving.

Society says your role as Mom is to make Christmas perfect for everyone else which, in turn, can ruin Christmas for you. You can still make Christmas magical for your kids while enjoying every second of it. You can make one batch of Christmas cookies instead of 30. You can just buy presents for immediate family instead of for the whole neighborhood, all your church friends, and your 5 kids’ best friends. You can pull out those Christmas PJs from last year instead of buying new ones every year. You can go a year without sending a Christmas newsletter to your great-uncle Bob whom you met once when you were 9 because you know it’s just going to end up in the trash.

CHECK OUT MY FAVORITE PINTEREST IDEAS ON HOW TO HAVE A STRESS-FREE CHRISTMAS:

There are many ideas on Pinterest for getting your kids 3-4 symbolic and meaningful gifts. Here’s one of my favorites. The Highland Park United Methodist Church blog encourages getting kids 4 gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. They also include Bible verses to go with each gift.

Click here to learn more.

Mommy on Purpose discusses how to have a stress-free Christmas with toddlers and pre-school age kids. She suggests not over-scheduling, knowing your kids’ limits, and suppressing the urge to over-do it with the sugar.

Click here to read her article.

Clean Eating with Kids provides a free printable Christmas planner titled The Peacefilled Christmas Planner to help you with creating “a holiday budget that won’t break the bank,” storing all of your holiday recipes in one place, and more.

Click here to get the planner.

Mom, stop striving for the PERFECT Christmas, and start striving for a JOYFUL Christmas, “for you and your kin!”

You’ve got this, Mom!

Follow my Pinterest Holiday Activities and Hacks board to get more incredible gift and activity ideas for each holiday!

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