Christmas is my favorite time of year. In the Cody house- the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off the Christmas season. Once Santa descends on New York City... that's it. The decorations come out, tree goes up, Christmas music is playing 24/7 and holiday treats are baked every weekend. And lets not forget all the Christmas movies. Charlie Brown Christmas, White Christmas (best movie EVER), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story... I could go on forever. I LOVE Christmas! I love Christmas shopping. I for one don't really like shopping online. I love the experience of good marketing. I love the sights and smells and sounds when I walk in a store. I love the hunt for the perfect gift. I love carrying home all my bags. The sound of a bell ringing outside my favorite store- it's the season of giving. I love all the 'feel's of the season. I love getting to watch the magic of Christmas being born in my sons eyes and getting to relive those moments with them.
However- I have developed a slight issue with Christmas. And I don't know for sure, but maybe just maybe, you might have this problem too. It is always in my nature to set the bar too high. I do this in every area of my life. Ministry. Marriage. Parenting. Birthdays. Special Events. You name it and I will create a complete perfect picture in my head of what it should look like months before it actually happens. In my head, I will know what I am wearing at that moment, who is there with me, what the room looks like, what it should smell like, what it will 'feel' like. Anyone else do this? And Christmas for me is the worst. I want it to be just like it is in the Hallmark movies. I want my children to be perfectly dressed and behaved, reading Christmas stories by the tree with the soft glow of the twinkle lights behind them! I want my baking skills to increase to a Martha Stewart level and I want my gift wrapping to be coordinated and look like a masterpiece. I am slightly kidding but I really did struggle with wanting the month of December to be perfect and not to be rushed. Somehow in this picture- I get all this done with time to spare. I hate to feel rushed. But when it's time to make my expectations reality, I realized the demands that I was putting on my family were crazy. They can't see what it is my head- so all they do see is a frustrated mama who isn't getting what she wants. What I didn't realize is that by acting that way- I was taking all the fun out of the season. And I was left disappointed because reality didn't measure up to my expectation.
So here are some reminders for us mothers and grandmothers and overall overachieving women this Christmas.
1. Slow Down
Slow down and enjoy the season for what it is. Enjoy your kids parties at school, putting up the tree, decorating the yard. Yes, there is always a lot to get done but enjoy the journey. One of my favorite sayings is, "Enjoy the journey because the destination is a mirage." I have to remind myself to Stop, Look and Listen at my boys when they find something magical in Christmas and capture the moment. Last year, Josh called me out of the kitchen into the living room and reluctantly I went stomping out. Maddex (2) had just learned to walk and Cade (5) was dancing with him to some Christmas music. They were having a blast while I was frustrated trying to make something perfect. They were actually enjoying a moment that I was trying to create. I would have missed that moment if I hadn't have made myself slow down.
I know that sounds silly- but don't overcommit yourself. December has a way of filling up very fast. Plan out the month and set family expectations with clarity. Prioritize what traditions are important to keep and what can be put on the back burner. Making sugar cookies in our family the week of Christmas is not optional and everyone knows it. It isn't a surprise and we show up ready. If things come up last minute- don't be afraid to tell people no. Guard your family time and find what works for you. Also, don't overcommit you- women have a tendency to try and accomplish 50 different things in one night after working a full day. Respect yourself and give yourself reasonable expectations. Even a night on the couch watching a Christmas movie is totally acceptable.
3. Turn Pinterest Off
I love me some Pinterest and God bless the man who created it. But it can make me feel so inadequate at times. I get on Pinterest and things I didn't even know existed, I now need this week! Anyone else with me? I will feel totally confident in my menu- have it in the oven- get on Pinterest and think, "Why didn't I do that?" Amazing isn't it? Make up your mind, get it done and stop looking!
Remember when you were a kid and Christmas came around? What excited you? I bet it wasn't how clean the house was or how many lights they had in their yard. I bet your favorite memories were the ones spent with your family, maybe watching a movie or sledding down the same hill at your Grandma's year after year. Maybe it was going to church on Christmas Eve for the candlelight service. The magic of Christmas is in the simple things. The smells. The sounds. And of course- above all, remember the reason there is Christmas at all is because a loving Father sent His one and only Son to be born in a stable. Nothing fancy. Nothing rushed. But perfect in every way.
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. Isaiah 9:6-7
So here's to making this Christmas count. To stop, look and listen for those moments that will be captured in our hearts forever and to remember that Christmas is really all about a little baby in a manger.