The holidays are upon us! If you are anything like me, you are feeling excited and a little overwhelmed. Maybe you are leaning towards one of those feelings more than the other this year. Or maybe the “Christmas joy” that is glaring at you isn’t taking root at all. It’s ok. No matter where this Advent season finds you, I guarantee you are not alone in your feelings or thoughts.
The world does a pretty good job at taking the celebration of the sweetest, most unexpected gift that we have ever been given (baby Jesus) and turning it into a whole crazy, distracting event! But, let me tell you something from a momma who’s about halfway through raising kiddos. This season does not have to overtake you and leave you feeling stressed, frazzled, and discontented. I have felt all those feelings in my early years of being a mom.
As a young mom, I had so many expectations regarding what the Christmas season would look like for my family. It would be full of decorations, making cookies, going to holiday themed events, hosting people in our home, volunteering as a family to help others, the making of multiple advent calendars, cutting down our own tree, taking holiday photos, sending Christmas cards, delivering cookies to all our neighbors and friends, oh and somewhere in there personally connecting with Jesus. Wowzers! I’m exhausted just typing it all out.
I have been the mom who stays up half the night making a thousand Christmas cookies because that is what I “should do” and then being exhausted and crabby at my family the next day. I have been the mom who scolds my children for getting in the way of my Christmas decorating plans. I have been the mom who forgot to prioritize my family before serving others outside my home. I have definitely been the mom who was trying so hard to get them to understand that Jesus is the reason for the season, that I overwhelmed my family with elaborate biblical advent calendars and readings to the point that we all cried some nights trying to get through it all. Oh my!
So, from one mom to another, hear this… it’s ok to not do all the things! It’s ok to expectantly wait for Jesus in simplicity. It’s ok to let go of traditions that you grew up with but don’t serve your family. It’s ok to choose to plug in one strand of lights, throw it over a bookcase, and call it good. It’s ok to say no to others’ expectations of what you and your family should be doing to celebrate the holidays. It’s ok to bring your neighbor store-bought cookies. Even better just skip the cookies all together and just go visit with your neighbor. Say hi and talk! That means a lot more than cookies any day.
I wish I could go back in time and tell my frazzled younger self to look to the manger as a blueprint for celebrating the birth of Jesus with my family. The birth of the Savior was quiet, humble, and intimate. It was not full of lights, a thousand presents, countdown calendars, and holiday parties. (Okay, minus angels singing to shepherds in a field.) That was quite the birth announcement! But that field was not where Mary gave birth, and she did not coordinate and send that birth announcement. God did! Mary focused on safely giving birth to her miraculous son. And then the shepherds arrived to behold the baby of the heavenly announcement. Luke 2:19 says that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The Bible does not say that she missed the moment because she was trying to get a photo and post it on Instagram. (Ouch. Am I right?)
Whatever you do this advent season with your family, make sure it does not overshadow the birth of the Redeemer of all humanity. Make sure that your traditions don’t overwhelm you to the point that you can’t connect with Jesus. I’m pretty sure that Jesus desires to be celebrated by walking with you daily. Prayer to Him matters more than any family Christmas photo. Spending family time in God’s word matters more than any Advent calendar. If you find yourself losing your way again, if the frazzle of the world and the expectations that can come with Christmas start to overwhelm, just open your Bible and look to the manger for you guide.
Merry Christmas! The King has Come!