Christmas is my favorite time of year! I’m the kind who listens to Christmas music all year long, dreams about all the cookies I’m going to make, and loves decorating the house and buying presents for others. With that being said, there can be so much hype around Christmas time. We watch the Christmas movies filled with fun, holiday activities: snow ball fights, making cookies together, etc. Have you noticed, though, that movies often don’t capture the mundane life stuff – like actually working their job?! As much as I’m a sucker for a good Hallmark movie, this is not reality.
My heart goes out to the reader who is frazzled and is lucky to get cookies made at all, much less get them picture-perfect or have the nerves to allow the children to help. I’ve been there. The woman whose husband lost his job and can barely make ends meet, much less be able to buy gifts for their children. Been there too. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and Christmas just seems like an even more difficult time instead of a season filled with peace and joy. Friend, let me tell you … no matter your circumstances, Jesus is with you. 2020 has been a hard year on every one. So many people are on edge … afraid of offending someone or maybe feeling offended yourself.
2 years ago my husband and I found ourselves in a hard situation. We were still living without running water, and finances were so tight we didn’t have the money to spend on gas to visit family and could only spare $5 per child for Christmas presents. Although it was gut wrenching to this mama’s heart that loves to give, the memories made that Christmas were unforgettable! We took a walk in our backyard filled with pine trees and chopped down some little ones (affectionally calling them “Charlie Brown” Christmas trees) for the kids rooms. They decorated them with ornaments they made. We spent time huddled together in front of a space heater having a picnic. I will never forget the kids’ attitudes were what made that Christmas the most special. As little as they got for Christmas, they were happy! It made me realize that Christmas is what you make it! Christmas really isn’t about the presents or having the perfect decorations, cookies, or events. It’s about Christ!
If you’re mourning the loss of a loved one, spend time with other loved ones or friends that are close to you. Spend time reading the gospels and imagine yourself in the story of Jesus’ birth and think about the love and peace that Christmas represents. If you’re struggling to keep up with all the things, think of 1 or 2 simple things you can do with your family that would bring some joy to you and create lasting memories for your children. It could be something as simple as turning on Christmas music and dancing around the house with your children and husband. Take away the pressure of the “have-to’s”. In fact, my husband and I stopped doing Christmas cards. Yep, you read that right! It was causing so much stress to get the picture taken, create the card, hoping they arrived on time, make the list of family & friends and always feeling like I was forgetting someone, sending out the messages asking for addresses, getting the envelopes addressed and mailed only to have a handful of cards still come back to me! I’m tired just thinking about it! Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t mail Christmas cards; but, it just doesn’t work for our family. So, we decided to start a new tradition of creating a “Merry Christmas” video that we send to all our friends and family. But, maybe the thought of making a video stresses you out even more. The point is, think outside the box of something that will make your Christmas less stressful and more meaningful. For our family, we started doing an Advent book that has simply made my Christmas. Every story in Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp is such an encouragement and helps remind me why I’m celebrating, decorating, buying gifts, etc.
As I’ve said, Christmas is my favorite time of year, but I know it can be exceptionally hard for some people. Whatever your circumstance this year, my prayer is you understand that it’s not about the festivities. It’s about our precious Jesus who loves you so intensely that He took on human flesh, was born in a lowly stable, and suffered greatly to show His love is immeasurable! I pray this season you’re able to feel that peace and joy only Jesus can give. I love you friend!