Christmas is naturally a busy time of year for those who celebrate Christ’s birth. Parties, family gatherings, food, gifts, wrapping and more occupy our minds during this season. I tend to really get stressed about finding the perfect gift for each person and making my home comfortable for visitors. I wish I had the secret for relaxing more and frowning less over things like baking! One thing I do not get stressed over, though, is whether or not my kids understand the meaning of Christmas. Why? Because they do understand it. Not because of what we do at Christmas, but what we strive to do all year long. Christ graciously and mercifully saved me twenty years ago. He has given me these twenty years to serve Him. Whether it’s by training my children to love Him, serving my husband at home, singing, writing, speaking – whatever I do, I want it to glorify Him. Even a sinner like myself will see God work in amazing ways when I serve Him the best I can and rely upon Him to do the work of the heart that only He can do.
Here are just a few ideas that help me to relax and enjoy this joyous season as much as I can between fretting over the turkey and the chocolate pecan pie.
#1. When I see a selfish act in my children, any time of year, I remind them to think of others. This brings forth fruit at Christmas when I see them light up at the thought of buying a gift for someone else, especially a sibling. If we, as parents, only encourage selflessness at Christmas, it will be hard to come by. They need to be selfless all year long. Likewise, when I see them act selfishly at Christmas, I can (hopefully) remember sometime during the year when they were happy to do for others. It all balances out.
#2. Limit Christmas confusion. I used to get a photo with Santa when I was little. My family would sometimes sign the gift cards “from Santa”, just for fun. Today we have Santa, Elf on the Shelf, Jesus and much more to squeeze into one season of the year. It can be confusing for kids, and exhausting for moms and dads. To limit my stress, and their focus, we leave Santa out and the Elf on the store shelf. It just makes my life a little less complicated. If you can keep it all straight, you are my hero! The season is a happy and fun time of year. Just enjoy it!
#3. Keep simple traditions. I love tradition- family tradition, that is. I love how Dad made his homemade pancakes on Christmas morning, how we took turns opening gifts to properly “ooo” and “ahh” over what someone else had gotten. I liked drawing names on my mom’s side of the family. I have carried some of those traditions over into my own family and started some new ones. I feed my kids three times a day, but more than feeding their bodies, I want to feed their souls, that part of them that loves music and art; that part that feels love and pain – it needs nurturing in ways which only a mom can understand. I think traditions help nurture the soul of a person.
#4. Remember that Christmas is optional. There have been many Christmases in which we could barely afford one gift for each of our children. Somehow, our love and excitement overflowed and they didn’t notice the sparseness. Last year, I read how a woman needed new tires on her car, but instead of getting them, she bought her kids toys for Christmas! Her words were “We know what’s important.” Sadly, she doesn’t. Keeping her family safe on the road is far more important than having an XBox or Nintendo or any toy! You see, good tires are a need. Food, heat, clothing, water and electricity are needs – an iPad is not a need. A vacation is not a need. Christmas is not a need. We can remember and celebrate the joy of Christ’s incarnation any time of year. It’s not a command from God’s Word to celebrate it, and He most certainly was not born on December 25. It’s just a date chosen to remember Him in any way we’d like. We don’t need parities or presents to live. They are a blessing, not a need.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you joy, happiness and blessings today, and every day! I leave you with a funny shot of the kids when I was trying to get a Christmas card photo. 🙂