It’s the most wonderful time of the year! ……..Or is it???
Is your holiday season best described by classic Christmas phrases like: “All is CALM, all is bright?!” Do you feel most MERRY this time of year?
Or do holiday festivities bring stress, chaos, grief, shattered expectations, disappointment, and other negative emotions???
For me, I’d say it has always been a bit of both. Maybe you’re the same. There is a lot of pressure around the holidays to do it all… the perfect presents, holiday photos in matching outfits, Christmas cards, hosting & entertaining, decorations and baking… the list goes on and on. Not to mention constant reminders of what and who is missing.
Call me Scrooge, but sometimes I am (really) glad when January comes. So how do we make this month count? How do we intentionally seek JOY and focus on what REALLY matters??
#1- Focus on PEOPLE
This year is our first holiday season without my dad & that has been tough. I used to dread shopping for him, the man literally did not want ANYTHING. Unless of course he could re-gift it (lol). He was the least materialistic person I have personally ever met. But he sure LOVED to give. His “man bag” as we called it (a nylon freebie bag) was always full of candies and cookies, gum, dog treats (couldn’t forget the 4 legged friends), and random things he bought from neighbor kids who knew he couldn’t say no. We never went home empty handed after a visit with Gpa.
This year, oh what I would give to be able to shop for him one more time (even if he did turn around and re-gift it to me or a sibling a couple months later). To be able to hug him and hear another corny joke I have heard 100s of times before. To feel him massage my shoulders like he did when he would walk up behind me. To see him sitting at the holiday table. At Thanksgiving, I walked into his parents house and heard his brother’s voice and for a split second thought it was my dad… I have moments like that a lot… where I forget he is gone. You just never know when holidays could be the last with a loved one- soak them in.
Last year at this time we also had 2 (bonus) kids that are no longer with us. While they have moved on to an amazing adoptive home, I still feel the void as I remember who else is missing from last year’s festivities. As hard as it was to have 4 kids ages 4 and under last year, it was a Christmas I will NEVER forget and one I will treasure forever. I thank God for allowing us one holiday season with those 2 beautiful children!
And now this year, I thank Him for our newest blessing, a baby girl who has been with us since early September. We are so blessed to be able to celebrate her 1st Holidays with her. She is now ~ 3 months, mastering tummy time, smiling a ton and “talking” by making those adorable baby coos… there is nothing more JOYFUL than that! It has been the biggest privilege to witness her transform from a fragile 4 pounder to a STRONG, happy, “chubby” 11 pounder! She is certainly a priceless gift this year & her presence helps immensely with the feelings of loss.
While it is impossible to not acknowledge who is missing, I am constantly reminded with every baby coo and 3 & 5 year old giggles of who God has blessed me with THIS year– 3 beautiful kiddos and a husband who puts up with me (and all my emotions this time of year). My focus is on THEM… and experiencing the joys of the season through and with them.
#2 DO WHAT BRINGS JOY, FORGET THE REST!
We simply cannot do it all. If you scroll social media and see the highlights of everyone else’s holiday season it is real easy to feel like you’re not doing enough. It is a fast-track (or scroll) to feelings of discontentment. Focus on YOUR family… do what makes y’all happy & be present with them. For us that has looked like games, music, baking, crafting, Christmas books, and Elf on a Shelf. My kids get a kick outta their Elf on a Shelf (“Joy”) every morning & I look forward to coming up with creative ideas to make them laugh. Funny story about our elf though, HE was lost somewhere along the journey home from Kansas last Christmas apparently, so this year, at 9:50pm on the eve before his supposed arrival date, I was frantically searching Target shelves while hearing “the store will be closing in 10…5 minutes” only to realize that THE ONLY ELF LEFT WAS A GIRL! So Elf had some explainin’ to do that first morning (why HE was this year a SHE…).
So we do ELF. And I get really into it.
But we don’t go out in the cold and chop our own tree … instead we use a pre-lit fake. Last year we didn’t even have a tree because of the 4 under 5 thing… I am certain it would not have made it standing for very long due to the wrath of toddlers. We don’t do Christmas cards (sorry friends… I love seeing yours though!). We rarely do Santa’s lap. Gifts are ordered on Amazon to avoid crowds and kept to a minimum. We project lights on the house (the lazy way) but don’t hang lights. We say no to events so as to not overcrowd our calendar and schedules.
Sometimes I feel like I am not doing enough, but I have to remind myself that if I did it all I would be too stressed out to enjoy what really matters… the PEOPLE. My kids, husband, friends, family, & memories with them. And of course, time with JESUS.
So here is permission to NOT DO IT ALL this year… be a little “lazy”, and enjoy what really matters this holiday season. Stay away from social media if it cuts into your JOY. And create traditions with people that will live on forever.
Let us be more like Mary in the gospel of Luke this holiday season, at the feet of Jesus, not so distracted by preparations that we miss the true meaning of the season. Choose what is BETTER.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
♥♥♥ James 1: 17– “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.”♥♥♥