We all want to experience the meaning of Christmas and create memories with our families. We want beautifully decorated Christmas trees and holiday get-togethers around tables filled with our favorite Christmas treats. The reality, however, is often far different from what we dream. As hard as we try, most things just don’t turn out the way we want. The snowman cookies you found on Pinterest are a flop, the perfect present for your spouse is impossible to find, and no one can agree on where to hang the mistletoe.
Sometimes when we begin to feel our frustration and disappointment mount, we need to take a step back. It helps to pause and remember.
Remember the WHY
This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes when the Christmas wheel starts turning, we jump on like our 3rd grade pet hamster and simply miss the significance of the season. We know all the fuss is truly about the Gospel, but we might just need to remind ourselves. Listen to Luke 2 read out loud, or better yet, read it out loud to your family. Take time to enjoy a holiday favorite that points your heart back to the manger. For me, it is listening to “O Holy Night” and reading all 3 verses. I love to sing the third verse:
“Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name”
It takes me to a place of worship and wonder for the gift of Immanuel, God With Us. Take some time to remember what brings you back to that place.
Remember the WHO
It is very, very easy to become weighted down and overwhelmed by the joyous gift and responsibility of gift giving and holiday festivities. There are so many unspoken expectations at Christmastime. The truth of the matter is we put these expectations on ourselves and firmly shackle ourselves with unreasonable and unspoken expectations during this holiday season.
Instead of enjoying giving a special little something to our coworkers, we worry that it won’t be enough. We worry that we forgot someone or disappointed someone else with our gift. It helps to remember that you are responsible first and foremost to the Creator of Christmas. Are you making Him smile with your preparation and your gift giving? Identify who your priority should be. Have you thoughtfully and wisely prepared for your families’ gifts and celebration? Have you made them a priority in the way you spend both your time and your money this Christmas? If not, then this may be part of the reason you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Remember the WHAT
Do the things that bring you and your family joy. Your celebration does not have to look like the perfect Christmas we see on Pinterest or Facebook. Trying to replicate something that may or may not be realistic leads to frustration and discontentment. It may be time to evaluate some of your traditions to see if they actually 1) point to Jesus, and 2) bring you and your family joy. As children grow older, some of the traditions they enjoyed as little ones may change and not hold the same magic. That just means working together to create a new favorite tradition!
Maybe it is time to discover and embrace some new traditions. A few years ago we had a very, very busy Christmas season with church services multiple nights preceding Christmas and multiple services on Christmas Day. This meant that we simply had no time to prepare an elaborate meal. Instead, on Christmas Eve we ordered Chinese food because it was the only restaurant nearby that was actually open. So now every Christmas Eve we order out Chinese. It has become a special tradition for our family.
Amy Grant wrote a song called “‘Til the Season Comes Round Again.” In it, she very poignantly captures the essence of the importance of making memories during Christmas.
“Come and gather around at the table
In the spirit of family and friends
And we’ll all join hands and remember this moment
‘Til the season comes ’round again
Let’s all try to smile for the picture
And we’ll hold it as long as we can
May it carry us through
Should we ever get lonely
‘Til the season comes ’round again”
We love the traditions that our family has each year because they cause us to remember. If we can strive to create and maintain traditions that help us remember the Why, Who and What of Christmas, then these memories will sustain us when we are apart. Part of the magic of Christmas is seeing special family members and friends we may only see one time a year.
So this Christmas, log out of Pinterest and take a sabbatical from Facebook so you can lock eyes with your family and create some new traditions. Hang on to the things that bring you joy this Christmas!