No more Christmas, at least not that way.

We don’t do Christmas. I mean, we do but we don’t do it the way we use to.  We spent our children’s growing up years trying to manage their Christmas expectations (read gifts), engage them in the real purpose and running around like crazy people volunteering, participating and exhausting ourselves into oblivion just to ensure that we covered all the bases.

We had rules too. We limited budget and number of gifts-with the occasional family surprise thrown in for fun-and made sure there was an emphasis on doing things for others. There were pageants, parades and parties followed by melt downs, temper tantrums and pouty lipped, crossed arm stares from less than happy little party goers. And that was the teen-aged years! Just kidding. Well maybe only a little. Another undercurrent that probably helped fuel this was stress. Especially stress for me, the mom in all this,

I grew up with drama that seemed to multiply around the holidays. Remember the melt downs, temper tantrums and pouty lipped, crossed arm stares from before? Yeah, it was like that only it was the grown ups and I was left to try to stay quiet and stay out of the way. This made me determined to create an entirely different experience for my family.

First, I wanted my kids to know that Christ was the center of the celebration (something I did not experience). I think they got that. Next, I wanted them to enjoy giving-whether it was sharing their time or giving to those with less. Check. AND, I didn’t want drama. I wanted gingerbread houses, Christmas carols and sparkling lights. OH, and real trees. Check, check, check and check. Don’t get me wrong, I did my best but it was seldom never perfect and while there was no big drama there was a lot of momma stress. A LOT.

Seriously, I had some major performance anxiety. Every, Single, Year. I was so caught up in not recreating the junk from my past that I was creating a new form of junk that robbed me of a certain amount of joy. Being wrapped up in creating perfection in an imperfect world is the perfect set up for failure.

If the kids were less than thrilled-like the year my daughter got more grown up styled gifts and I ran out the next day and got her something else more little girly because I was heartbroken-I felt like I had ruined Christmas. No worries though because woven throughout the holiday the story of Christ was center-right? Nativity scene? Yup. Church program, school program, Christmas eve service, devotionals, story books-checkcheckcheckcheckcheck……..aaaaaaaannnnnd, check. Whew. It’s hard work to make sure everyone is happy, well fed, well dressed and perfectly Christmassed. But, being wrapped up in creating perfection in an imperfect world is the perfect set up for failure.

And then gradually we quit doing Christmas.  I need to add that our kids are grown now, married or soon to be and we even have a grand so no one is being neglected by our change of approach. As everyone got older our celebrations began to evolve. Accommodating extended families and tight schedules became a part of our planning and we began taking things out of the equation.  I still decorate like a mad woman (though not this year but there’s another reason for that) because I love the festive feel and twinkling lights and almost wish we could celebrate winter this way for months! I still make treats-though not as many because we now have waist lines to worry over and diminishing sweet tooth’s to work around.  And presents? Well, we don’t do them. The piles under the tree have been replaced by experiences and memories created by doing fun things together. OK, if I am going to be truly honest I still by crazy Christmas pajama pants, funny socks and other silly things because I can’t resist BUT these are not the focus-simply a bonus.

What I have discovered is that to celebrate Christs birth I need less. As the craziness has diminished my joy has become central. Funny how that works. I still love to buy gifts-I love to take something to a friend or surprise someone with an unexpected latte but it comes from a desire to share joy not fulfill a check list. I have rediscovered Christ in the quiet places and the simplest of gestures. Now, I can savor my cup of coffee or cocoa and not pound it back knowing I have more to accomplish before I can relax.

[ Mary’s Song ] And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.

Luke 1:46-47, 49NIV

For the first time in years, I can say that ‘my spirit rejoices’-somewhere deep down inside in a way that I haven’t experienced around Christmas-or any other time for that matter-in a very long while. And, can I say that Joy feels great?  I’ve written about Atelophobia before-it is a genuine fear of imperfection and something that has been very real to me in the past.  But I have learned that being wrapped up in creating perfection in an imperfect world is the perfect set up for failure.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Hebrews 10:14

I am so grateful that in my failure there is hope as a new creation and that a the real definition of perfection is holiness-which can only come through Him.

I pray you find joy-JOY-in this crazy busy season and that you may find beauty in imperfection-don’t be so wrapped up in creating the perfect holiday that you miss out on the perfect gift only He can give.

Merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing you in the new year!!