Preparing for Christmas can take on a life of its own.
Somewhere in my past I became convinced that Christmas had to be “prefect”. Trouble is I wasn’t even sure what prefect was. But I knew I wasn’t. My home wasn’t. My children weren’t.
I sat in this hoped for “prefect” season allowing it to magnify my lack of perfection.
I am very grateful God walked me through this when my children were young. I didn’t want Christmas to be about unattainable perfection on any level. I wanted to live that Christmas was about Jesus, not just say so. I will not say I have arrived. I go through the process I am going to lay out for you every year. Some years I do better than others. Some days I do better than others.
Here’s my process of preparing for Christmas.
1. Identify expectations:
I can create a great amount of stress for myself if I do not take the time to sort through what I am expecting of Christmas. For me it’s a whole season, not a day. I am naturally idealistic. I tend to have expectations I’m not aware of until I’m disappointed.
2. Evaluate expectations:
Once I identify my dreams and expectations I take them to God. In my time with Him I ask questions like, “What is doable this year?” and “What is most important?”, and “What matters to my family?”. I can let many things go when we have this conversation. Time with Him and time with family are all I want. Everything else is fluff. Fluff is okay as long as there is no stress attached.
3. Evaluate traditions. Does this bring God glory?
When I had my children I looked at every Christmas tradition through this lens “Does this give God glory?” If I could not see a way it brought God glory I modified it or threw it out.
This is where my first book, Christmas Is about Jesus, was born. I wanted to do the advent calendar where there is a window to open each day. I wanted it to be more than counting down days until presents. To me Christmas is about Jesus coming to bring us salvation. Yet everywhere we encountered things that had nothing to do with Jesu. I wrote the daily devotions to point our thoughts to Jesus. I made ornaments so my children would have something to “open” each day. The ornaments also helped us talk about the devotion throughout the day. We usually hung them where we could see them from the table.
I am not saying fun activities like gingerbread houses or games are out. God loves families. He loves families enjoying each other and making memories. For me activities like pretending Santa was real were out.
4. Ask kids what makes Christmas special to them. (You may want ot try this even if the kids are out of the house.)
One year (while I was stressing over all the baking, decorating, making gifts, and whatever else was in my perfect Christmas that year) God inspired me to ask the kids what made Christmas special to them. Their list was short and totally doable. They wanted to look at Christmas lights, go to Gramma’s, and make gingerbread houses. That was it. That was all they cared about! It made letting my list go much easier. Now every year after Thanksgiving I ask and we schedule what’s most important to each of us. Anything else that happens is extra. Way less stress. Way more time for peace, the Prince of Peace.