Christmas is so soon and joyful, but it can be so overwhelming.
All the people, the planning, the presents, the pitiful sugar crazed children. — Ok, maybe that p-phrase was a stretch, but whatever. — These children can be so pitiful when they’re overwhelmed with Christmas expectations.
“Say thank you.” “Wait your turn.” “That’s not yours.” “Wait. Ok now.” “Wow, so much fun, open another.”
And when they’re older: “If aunt so and so asks you what you’re up to/planning/how you are, answer with a couple sentences instead of a couple words.”
But for little ones especially the pace of christmas sometimes results in overwhelmed meltdowns.
No matter what you do.
I want to share the joy with my kids. The Christmas joy. The happy time with family, the special treats to eat, giving and receiving gifts. Some semblance of understanding about why we are celebrating for real. Jesus and all, not so much Santa and presents.
Quiet Christmases are a dream, but these loud busy christmases are the joy spot for me because it’s where my people are. Brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents. We have the big celebration and tradition thing down. As I am growing into this parenting thing I want to gather a little grace (and maybe sprinkle it with some pixie dust?) to let my littles have a Christmas with meaning, not just presents and rules. Mastering the balance (somehow I don’t think that happens) and helping our kids how to get through it all without too much stress might be difficult.
But, for me, it’s worth it to attempt the balance.
At the moment, I am planning on wearing the baby. She gets overwhelmed with too much passing and holding and her christmas joy will be better organized if she can view the goings-on from my lap and have a snack whenever she wants it.
This keeps my Christmas (and lap!) a little busier, but oh so worth it, because happy baby is joy and screaming baby is stress and mommy guilt.
But my bigger kids. How to show them the joy of Christmas and not just the joy of presents? At only 2 and 3 I think we have time to teach and linger in the good stuff, but knowing the points to hit at this little time in their lives could help them out.
For now, I’m letting them help wrap the present they (ok, I, next year I’ll let them help a little more specifically) picked for their people in each “name drawing” – an aunt or uncle and a cousin each for two different bigger family celebrations. We’ll write their names on the package together and talk about how at Christmas we give presents. I’d like to help them give their gift to their person so they can watch them open it and see their reaction.
We’ve prepped with Christmas books about Jesus and presents (and a few with Santa), so they have heard a few times what Christmas is about and why we do presents.
And maybe I’ll try to prep them a little on how Christmas presents work. How to open and thank the person they’re from, but I’d really just like to sit with them at the opening and help them explore and linger in the gift together.
This drawing close of my little people at Christmas might be key. That first Christmas was just a little family unit close and loved, after all.
Of course there’ll be sugar highs. These things are hard to control when all the relatives want to give sweets (or the tables are just kid height and unsupervised). But we can help them eat some healthy stuff in between, pack the protein in a little. Naps if possible. And just keeping close to help them feel the joy without becoming completely out of control.
There will be tantrums. But it can still be a Christmas tantrum.
And after all the wants and wishes of my mothering heart, I still get to consider the grace in the mess and loud of our traditional Christmas.
Even if I don’t explain perfectly. Even if they somehow know more about Santa than Jesus. Even if they don’t say thank you, throw tantrums, don’t seem to enjoy the day as smoothly as I might wish. Even if I react poorly, have unreasonable expectations, communicate unclearly, am too self-conscious, or forget to linger, rest, listen, hope, wait, etc.
There is still grace in all that and in abundance.
Because our Christmas Joy is in all reality about the God of Grace and HIS Gift to us not ours to to anyone else. Not our kids. Not our family/friends/people/self. Christmas is just a day in an eternity offered.
WE are not the focus of Christmas. And somehow our focus doesn’t matter.
He still comes. He still came. He was still the gift. Christ is still ours and His, without expectation. We can give and receive freely.
And linger in this Christmas joy.
Such as it is in this little world in our little lives.
He’s here and there.
And that is enough.
“And He will prepare your heart for the coming of the Lord. Now the miracles stack multiply. You don’t have to work for the coming of the Lord – you don’t have to work for Christmas. The miracle is always that God is gracious. You don’t have to earn Christmas, you don’t have to perform Christmas, you don’t have to make Christmas. You can rest in Christ. You can wait with Christ. You can breathe easy in Christ. Open your heart to he miracle of grace. He will prepare your heart for the coming of the Lord.” Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas p.201
Dear Friends, I hope you are able to rest easy in the grace of Christmas. And I pray that even as you find yourself losing the thread of calm and scurrying after expectations, peace and love and joy surprise you around every corner along the way. May the tantrums (yours and theirs!) be few and far between.
Wishing you Christmas Joy, but really simply grace, and the most free of holidays!
Peace and a hopeful calm.
Merry Christmas, friends.
Would you join us as we write on “joy” this week? Click the button below to peruse the contributions or add your own.
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