We decorated the house this weekend.
We pulled out the tree and all the garlands, the stockings and twinkling lights. I made pumpkin pancakes on Saturday morning, and we baked gingerbread cookies that evening. We watched White Christmas, and the kids played with their little nativity set. All of the idyllic things you imagine a little family doing at Christmas time.
Also, each one of my kids got in SERIOUS trouble. Each made multiple trips to the time-out chair, and two of them got sent to their rooms before lunch was over.
You know the real reason we parents need to keep Christ in Christmas? Because kids are the worst.
Can we be a little less precious about “the reason for the season” for one hot minute, friends? You know me. You know I love Jesus. Really LOVE Him. His birth and life and resurrection are EVERYTHING. Every.thing.
THIS s is the season we celebrate His birth, the fulfillment of all God’s promises and prophecies of the Savior, the unbelievable, gift of his life and death and resurrection for all humanity forever and ever. Emmanuel. Hallelujah. King of Kings. Lord of Lords.
But in 2016, THIS is ALSO the season when my kids make me call on Jesus name ONE THE REGULAR. As in, “Come, Lord Jesus, and save me from these INSANE, SMALL PEOPLE.”
You guys. Nathan and I would really like to be awesome parents. We want to raise our kids well, to love the Lord and serve Him, and, you know, throw a little fun and wonder in there just for kicks. Without fail, every time we try to be fun, our children ruin it.
Yay! Let’s have pumpkin pancakes and listen to Christmas music! Nope. Let’s fight and cry.
Yay! Let’s decorate the house and make magical memories! Nope. Let’s fight over all of the things.
Yay! Let’s eat lunch and watch dad string up lights! Nope. Let’s steal food and spill milk and disobey and almost get electrocuted.
Friends, I need Christ in Christmas, so I don’t lose my marbles. I need Christ in Christmas because only He can talk me down when I’m dealing with the fifth meltdown in an hour. I need Christ in Christmas because parenting, man.
We can be all hyper-spiritual and pretend that we are eschewing consumerism and materialism and all the other ugly, worldly isms that we Christians get all bunched up over, but the real truth is, we shouldn’t be on a crusade to keep Christ at the center of Christmas out of self-righteousness or piousness. Nope. We need Christ at the center of Christmas because we are a mess.
We just got our Christmas cards printed, and I have to admit, we are adorable. My children’s cherubic faces. Nathan and I smiling and everyone so well-dress and tidy. If my family were ACTUALLY Christmas card perfect, I would definitely not need Christmas. I wouldn’t need that baby in the manger to be the Savior of all because I would have all my crap together. In reality, I don’t. I’m losing my crap all over the place, and I need to focus on Christ during the holidays more than ever our we might not make it into the New Year in one piece.
I’m a sinful, impatient parent trying to be fun and magical during the holidays, but ending up all ragey and hysterical.
I’m so thankful God took on flesh to help me battle my fleshly desire to send my 3-year-old to military school. I sing Joy to The World, the Lord Has Come, because without Him I could not survive the insanity of bedtime battles after a “special day” of cookie decorating.
I’m praying for you, friend, and all the mamas of littles out there. Praying that Christ is in the center of all your Christmas celebrations and activities, that He is with you as you parent through this holiday. You know, so your children all live to see 2017.
Hey, maybe we could work on this together? Calling on Christ for Sanity this Christmas!
1) Prioritize personal time with God over “Christmas traditions”
Before I rearrange my schedule and squeeze in service projects or community tree lighting or parade watching or other “memory making,” I better get with Jesus. Because I can guarantee you this: someone in this family is going to have a bad attitude, and nothing makes me less gracious, kind, or loving than a grouchy, ungrateful child having a meltdown when I am being THE MOST FUN MOM EVER. See?! I need Jesus. So do you. I know we are all busy this time of year, but no one will have any fun or experience anything warm and nostalgic unless I’m filled with the Spirit instead of anger and resentment.
If you need some practical, LEGIT ideas for how to find time for God in this crazy busy season, check out this resource I put together for us.
2) Eat and sleep like a grown up
The other night I stayed up until 3 am and yesterday until almost 2 because I’m a stupid woman. I have a cough, the kids have runny noses, no one is sleeping well, and everyone is grouchy. What I really need to do is take a nap and eat a sandwich, not wrap presents or bake cookies. If I want to really give my kids a wonderful holiday with their family, I would do well to stay well-fed and well-rested. Nobody wants a hangry mom snapping at them during cookie baking sessions.
3) Save the “magic” for your marriage
I’ve decided Nathan and I are going to be awesome together. Since our kids are too young to fully appreciate how awesome we are and how magical and fun we make their lives, then we are going to enjoy our awesome, fun, magical selves without them. We’ll sip hot chocolate and eat cookies after bedtime. We’ll listen to Christmas music and wrap presents while they are napping. Winter can be romantic and delightful for husband and wife. Our kids can join us in the fun next year (or maybe the year after).
4) Choose attitude over activities every.single.day
In the wise words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Our kids may never remember the cookies baked or movies watched or lights strung or carols sung, but they will always remember how they FELT during the holidays. Were they loved? Cared for? Encouraged? Understood? Or were they rushed? Shouted at? Belittled? Ignored? If I can’t do this fill-in-the-blank-fun-Christmas-thing with patience and grace, then we better skip it. Attitude over activities. Every.single.day.
I’ll be praying for you, friend, and looking forward to that well-deserved mimosa waiting for us on December 26.