Making Christmas special.

Why do I think it’s my responsibility?  You know.. . to make Christmas special.

Why do I think if my house has lights, handmade gifts and my cookies are the first to vanish at the neighborhood party that my Christmas celebrations will be more meaningful?

Why does Christmas seem to become more empty some years, especially as I get older?

Why do I think that Christmas will be more special when I have children?

Why does ‘special’ seem out of grasp? Or such a huge and daunting task that I put on my Christmas list so long ago?

Somewhere along the way I bought into the idea that it’s my responsibility to cook food that looks like a magazine cover, select the perfect gifts, know how to make fluffy bows, hand make everything, and keep the true meaning of Christmas in everyone’s heart.

{These are the questions I’ve been asking myself as my fake Christmas tree sits naked in my living room awaiting my decorations.}

I’ve also been thinking a lot about rest. So, if I’m going to rest in Jesus, then I have to turn everything over to Him, including making Christmas special.

So, this year, I’m doing something really crazy and handcrafting a prayer, asking God to make Christmas special. I give up on trying to make Christmas special —- in my own power.

I want Him to make this year different, better, more meaningful and yes, special for me, for you.

by Stephanie Bryant, co-founder of (in)courage and now Creative Mastermind at S. Bryant Social Marketing.

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  1. 1

    May I sidle up next to ya and ask the same thing? What a simple yet Christmas-changing idea. I love this. And I love you! Merriest of Christmas wishes, Stephanie. *You* are beyond special!

  2. 2
    Rebecca says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for helping me see myself in your questions. I’m joining you in giving it back to the One it belongs to.
    Wishing you a peaceful and blessed Christmas.

  3. 3
    Paola Rarick says:

    You are so right! Sometimes it is downright exausting. I have a daughter, and I feel I have to make it special for her, but really that isn’t in my hands. I really needed this today, Thank you!

  4. 4

    My husband put some of this in perspective recently — we were discussing what to cook for a family celebration. We decided on spaghetti . . . why, you may ask. I slow cook my sauce all day, then everything else is easy. This gave us more time with our family instead of being in the kitchen for half a day. Thanks for your reminder to celebrate Christmas and not just add another burden to our lives.

    • 5
      Lorrie Behrens says:

      Love, love, love our idea of speghetti!
      Thats for sharing things that relieve the stress and encourage family time.
      Merry Christmas!

  5. 6

    Ooh. Ouch. Why do I feel like I have to be in control of all that anyway. Thank you for the reminder to give it over to Him. Only then will Christmas be “special” for us all.

  6. 7

    We are returning this year to my favorite Christmas tradition. A cold buffet! When we get home from church, I will set out everything to make sandwiches. (to aid in clean up, we use Christmas paper products) and chips, veggies and dip and all the baked goodies and candies I’ve made and been given. Everyone is welcome to eat what they want…when they want. We won’t sit at the table together, but we will all be together in the family room watching the movies we give each other. Stress free, nobody is in the kitchen and the kids love it!

  7. 9

    Amem and amen! I posted on Fbook several weeks ago that I would not obsess over decorating my house……. I am proud to say I haven’t. My family would rather spend time with a mom and who is jolly instead of that Grinchy woman who worries about garland and such;)

  8. 10

    It does me good to read this this morning. Last year I went near insane knitting a sweater for each of my children (at the time there were 4), as if completing them on time and having the children all wear them on Christmas Day would “make” Christmas. Guess what – I didn’t get them all done. And Christmas came and was wonderful anyway. This year, new baby mandate that I scale way back and I’m finding something wonderful this week before Christmas: rest and peace. It feels marvelous!

  9. 11

    Such a good reminder… thank you. I think when I try to make things special, I’m so often disappointed and exhausted. But you’re so right – God is the one who gives us all good things, and shouldn’t we welcome Him to come in and surprise us with His love?

  10. 12

    Such a wonderful and timely reminder. Thank you!

  11. 13

    Thank you. At least your naked tree made it into your living room. There are no excuses this year – I’ve not found employment after husband’s relocation, my time is my own. But the emptiness of this season has overwhelmed me and I really want to focus on His will not mine. Former home had a tree in every room – even the bathrooms were decorated, handmade bows with cloth ribbon on packages – you know the drill – but after a while it was a given and not even acknowledged let alone appreciated – and it became the reason for the season. This Christmas away from ‘home’ saw homemade jams delivered to relatives in our home state and our children in other countries. We will try to keep our eyes on Jesus despite all the temptations to do otherwise. May you and all your readers have a blessed Christmas – and I thank you so much for this website and venue for your readers. God bless.

  12. 14

    Amen, sister! I’ve struggled this week with a mixture of worry over whether my kids truly appreciate the real meaning of Christmas and a desire to postpone it until the middle of next week, when maybe I’d be more ready. (ha!) Less stress, more worship, right? (she says as she prepares to launch into full scale Pioneer Woman cinnamon roll baking mode)

  13. 16

    Last night I just collapsed in exhaustion. I was trying to be all to others that I was left empty. I was wishing for Christmas tO be over and to find peace in the new year. Yet the truth is the new year will bring its own stress and my peace can only be found in Jesus. So I’m to handing Christmas over to the one who is the reason for the season.

  14. 17

    I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about rest, too. Falling into it, even within the chaos. He is Peace all the time.

    Lovely words by you that made me feel connected today.

    Rich blessings, sweet girl.

  15. 18

    WOW it seems like we are on the same page. Except with the cooking (that is not my gifting) my husband and I do it together.

    My son asked me just the other day “mom why does Christmas have to be so commercial?” he went on to say it is suppose to a time to celebrate Jesus and spend time with family not about who bought the best gift. He also stated don’t get me wrong I like giving presents and receiving but its about Jesus. That was from my 17 year old. Words of wisdom.

    Thanks for reminding me to rest in Jesus.

  16. 19

    So completely resonate with this statement: “Why do I think that Christmas will be more special when I have children?” I know. Really. People just seem to think that because you don’t have children your time is theirs and there’s nothing really for you to do on Christmas morning. My husband and I have traditions. We have special moments where we rest in the season, in Jesus’ arms, and people with children seem to disregard us like we are there for them. It’s frustrating. I love making Christmas special for people, but I also love the intimate moments of resting in Jesus’ arms, my husband and I. Great post!

  17. 20

    This is so me…the burden I feel each year to “make Christmas special” for my three children can overwhelm me. It’s not so bad now that they are grown, but I used to tense up over matching piles of gifts, even money expenditures on children’s toys and making the day void of any hint of disappointment in what was under the tree. I would actually breathe a sigh of relief when presents were opened and everyone was happy – I was terrified that I could singlehandedly ruin their expectations and thus damage them for the remainder of their earthly years.

    In other words, I gave myself way too much power and didn’t bring this issue to God at all. Ever.

    Times have changed, lists are shorter, children are college age adults (who still get stockings cuz I can’t quite let go just yet) and everyone remains un-marred as of this holiday season.

    As a matter of fact, my 21 year old daughter tells me year round that she loves Christmas, so I guess my husband and I, with God’s help, have done all right! I can relax!

  18. 21

    I have the same problem. But this Christmas I have made it my aim to rest. I know that only happens in Him. Thanks, Stephanie!

  19. 22

    It’s the expectations that get to me too. I love prepping for Christmas but hate feeling like I need to do it all, and that Christmas will be ‘less than’ if I don’t do certain things. Great reminder that it’s not about that!

  20. 23

    That is what I have been doing the last two years.
    I have been focusing on what I can do, not what I can’t.
    We have the usual: indoor and outdoor lights, a tree, presents, cards, etc.
    But I don’t over exert myself. I just can’t do it and I know my limits.
    I have been focusing on my health, rest, and family time more.

  21. 24

    Well said , thank you so much for the reminder. It was just what I needed to hear today in the midst of an endless list . We can all only do what we can do, so Let’s turn around our focus to Him the one who gives us hope, who’s burden is light and stop and sit at His feet as we reflect on His birth, life and resurrection. That is what Christmas is all about, spreading His love to others not frantically rushing around.

  22. 25

    Christmas has become harder and harder for the past decade…I ask myself why. I have become such a “Grinch” this year has been the worst. Used to love putting up the tree and all the decorations…my sweet husband had to do it or it would not have happened at all. I simply do not have the energy. I keep blaming it on menopause, but I think you hit the nail on the head….I need to give it to God, only Jesus can make Christmas perfect and special…not me! Thank you so much!

    • 26

      I am right there with you on this…somewhere I lost my joy in the journey towards Christmas…and this year I find myself wondering “why didnt I do it different?” Economic challenges perhaps driving the desire to “make” Christmas for my family? As you said …only Jesus can make Christmas!
      Next year..no more grinchy mom..thank you…

    • 27

      I am right there with you on this…somewhere I lost my joy in the journey towards Christmas…and this year I find myself wondering “why didnt I do it different?” Economic challenges perhaps driving the desire to “make” Christmas for my family? As you said..only Jesus can make Christmas!
      Next year..no more grinchy mom..thank you.

  23. 28

    Christ has made Christmas special for me. I received Christ on Christmas Eve… 20 years ago this year. :-)
    I’ve been pondering the same things Stephanie. Thanks for posting this.

  24. 29
    Beth Williams says:

    These past few years Christmas has become soo overly commercialized that I hate the thought of the season hitting us.

    I simply go on-line or to stores and buy gifts for family and friends–usually before Thanksgiving. That way it is finished & I can focus on Christ–the true meaning of Christmas. Also in my cards I wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Joyous New Year. I don’t say seasons greetings!

    I think people put stress on themselves with all the “stuff” they think they must accomplish! When really all they have to do is just enjoy family, friends & some much needed downtime!

  25. 30

    oh my what a sweet message today. I feel like God sent it especially for me. My
    mother has been in the hospital for 2 weeks, and she is not doing well. I am trying
    to juggle everything, and just today I was thinking that Christmas just didn’t seem
    “special” this year. I am renewed by reading your message today, and I know that God
    will renew me, just in time to pull everything together to worship and celebrate his
    birth.

  26. 31

    “as my fake Christmas tree sits naked in my living room awaiting my decorations.” I look over at our fake tree in the living room awaiting decorations. My son told my sister it looked like a giant squid, and I have to agree. Have been having a hard time trying to make Christmas special. Things are difficult between my husband and I. Our oldest has anxiety issues and may have a form of autism. Our younger son has been acting out in anger. My husband is withdrawn. So I’ve been trying to fill the gap, and failing. But it’s not my job then, is it? It’s Christ who stands in the gap. It’s what he was born and died to do. Thanks for the reminder.

  27. 32

    I wrote a blog post this past week that was in essence an echo of yours. Finding less in Christmas means I can find more of Him.

  28. 33

    I couldn’t agree with you more!

  29. 34

    Love your post.. I a so thankful that I never get stressed out ~ I am from Kenya so I enjoy the beautiful house and decors, I never tire doing it since I grew up with no electricity or running water water.. I look at this day thanking Jesus from bring me this far but many time I end up feeling guilty after reading all this blogs on keeping it simple etc. I think we can celebrate Christ in a beautifully decorate home too right?

    see my post and let me know

    http://nancyogengayouree.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/christmas-traditions/

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