Sisters, I’m going to admit something ugly here. This is a safe space, right? Lean in close so I don’t have to speak these words above a whisper:
I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas.
There, I said it. (Please don’t judge.)
Since we’re being honest, can you relate to this feeling? It makes me feel like a bad person to harbor any ambivalence about a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ — the most important event in all of human history — so I’ve analyzed the source of those feelings and ways to push past them to more fully enjoy the season. What I’ve found is this: the problem is usually rooted in my unrealistic and self-imposed expectations.
Recently, a friend posted a graphic on Facebook that said, “Mentally, I’m ready for Christmas. Financially, I’m not ready for Christmas.” Many of us feel this way. Is it really necessary to purchase a gift for every friend and check off every box on our children’s wishlists? Maybe not.
When we believe it takes deep pockets to fully enjoy the season, we do ourselves and our families a disservice. If we allow it, it can steal our joy. Many of our greatest gifts don’t require money, but they do require our time and our presence.
Family activities that reflect the Christmas spirit of love and generosity can include delivering a pan of Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls to friends, neighbors, or the local fire department. It can include packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child or planning a DIY day with your kids to make inexpensive homemade gifts like sugar scrub, soap, Mason jar brownie mix, or painted canvases. Search Pinterest for DIY Christmas gifts — the ideas are endless!
Let’s teach our children about gifts that come from the heart.
Although I remember some Christmas presents from my childhood, I recall special moments and family traditions even more: my grandmother’s homemade hot cocoa and chocolate-covered cherries, my Great-Aunt Myrt’s cheese spaghetti, the Christmas morning when my sister and I found sooty Santa footprints in front of the fireplace wiped off on the towel that protected my mother’s prized white wool carpet, the Life Savers Sweet Storybooks in our stockings each year, learning to make coffee for our parents so they would come sit down by the tree sooner.
As parents, my husband and I have established traditions with our own children, some old and some new. At bedtime on Christmas Eve, they unwrap pajamas, which they’ll sleep in, and movies, which they’ll watch on Christmas morning before dragging me and my husband from our warm bed. They may look different than the ones from my childhood, but my children also find Life Savers Storybooks in their stockings, as well as fun socks, a new pen, a deck of cards, and a lip balm. We draw Secret Santa names in our large family so the kids are only responsible for one gift. This year, we’ve exceeded our usual quota of family nights watching cheesy Christmas movies, and I hope that will be our pattern for years to come.
In December, we load up in vans to go caroling in local nursing homes on a Sunday afternoon with our church family and volunteer one evening in the Atlanta Operation Christmas Child warehouse (is one of their eight U.S. processing centers near you?).
I want my kids to learn to sacrifice their time in ways that bring joy to others.
Don’t allow finances or self-imposed expectations to spoil the wonder and reverence of the greatest gift we know: that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:14, KJV) and that Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45, ESV).
Anything that takes the focus from Him detracts from the simplicity of Jesus’ message and the beauty of the Christmas season.
Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?
Related Read: Because Christmas Isn’t About Me
Many of our greatest gifts don't require money, but they do require our time and our presence. -@DawnMHSH: Click To Tweet