With all the inviting occasions to gather with friends and family, opportunities to connect and serve others less fortunate, grand plans for baking and homemade gifts and crafts, and gift planning, buying and, sigh, wrapping- all thrown in on top of the daily needs to get meals ready, get our kids to sit down and actually eat the meals, and pass in and out from work, school, and normally-scheduled activities, this month often leaves haggard parents with no twinkle in their eyes and the celebration of the season all but sizzled out of their hearts.
Plan for a Merry Christmas
It’s never too early (or to late- for those of you fastidious planners out there who have the whole month mapped already) to plan for a Merry Christmas.
I say plan, because I believe it is a mindset- a perspective choice that we make. We are choosing to look ahead or not- at all the opportunities we have to gather with people we love and people that need Jesus, to eat and fellowship, to give and gratefully receive, and to make known the Savior and King we celebrate this season. I’ve found if I run headlong into things without stopping at least a brief moment to think and pray things through, things don’t go nearly as well as times when I choose to.
Set a Date to Be Ready Ahead of Time
A mentor mom recently shared with a group of us moms that prepared and got all ready for Christmas by December 12 each year. She got all the gifts, wrapped them, and got everything decorated and ready. Then, from the 12th on, she could just enjoy the season. That is a really helpful perspective. Even if that isn’t reasonable for us, the idea of planning for margin is surely doable to some degree for most of us.
Decide How Much is Too Much
Heidi St. James shared at a homeschoolers’ convention this year that when her kids become collateral, she knows she is doing too much. For those with kids, this is a good measure during the holidays and throughout the year. As soon as our kids are becoming the collateral damage of our unrestrained stream of going and doing, we know we need to set priorities, cut some things back, and enjoy celebrating Christ with our families in the little things this season.
When Merry Seems Impossible
For the child who’s parents divorced this year, for the parents who lost their child, for the spouse grieving a battle with cancer lost, for everyone looking at empty chairs this season (even when those chairs have been empty for years), holidays are just all the harder. I’ll write more on this in an upcoming post, but the holidays can be just plain hard.
Merry Is What You Make of It
Merry is what you make it, though. If my Merry depends on a sparkling tree and perfect presents all around, but our house catches fire and we lose everything, there goes my merry. If my Merry depends on life on earth being pain-free, in this fallen world it won’t take long for my merry to be out of here. If we can focus in on what this season is really about, we can find a lasting merry, a joy that is a rock in times of agony.
Not Always Palpable, but Possible
And, for the parent who lost their adult son at the peak of life and look at their own unending rush of tears and the grieving wife and children he left in his wake, joy is not always something that is palpable. Yet is is possible over the long haul of life.
Our Enduring Merry
We have a God who loves us. He created all perfect, but we rejected Him, and it went to pot. This season, we celebrate how He sacrificed through great agony to to make a way for us to be reconciled to Himself. He made a way we could know Him now, present and active in our lives, and know Him forever. His coming brought us life and anticipation of His second coming. This we celebrate.This is our lasting joy. If this is our merry- to keep us grounded; to keep a sparkle in our soul our whole life long.
What Keeps the Merry in Your Christmas?
Do tell in the comments below!