Merry, Merry Christmas!
Well, we jumped from remodeling the kitchen to full-fledged Christmas preparations. As the mother and tone-setter for the family, I proceeded to lose my mind and take my family with me!! There are entirely too many things to do in December. It sounds innocuous enough – just a class party or work party or band concert – none of them take much time. But then the avalanche begins – one turns into ten and pretty soon every night of the week there is some event that we must attend. And I always have good intentions, but most of my Christmas shopping is done in December, so there are the crowds to fight and some serious brain-wracking to even come up with gift ideas in the first place (every year I vow to pay attention and make lists … it never happens).
I was kind of dreading having my kids home, because” schedules are our friends” in our home – they are the masters of good moods and the cure for boredom and trouble making. But it actually got easier when they began their Christmas break – no more class events, no more racing to get them to school on time, no more homework (really, did we need to be working on a science fair project now?? Wouldn’t that be better in January when we are all suffering from the post-Christmas blahs and need something to do?) We have had a few not great days, but I’ll take the blame for not establishing some sort of routine and just letting the kids do what they wanted. It never turns out pretty. Even a few instructions (read for 20 minutes, make bed, shower, pick up room, eat) make the day start out so much better and good beginnings tend to continue on into good days at our home.
I’m happy to say that the Christmas cards are all in the mail (if you want to be added to the list, please leave me a comment), the neighbor goodies are delivered, and most of the shopping is complete. We even got a tree last weekend, so the house is officially decorated for Christmas. I’m feeling good. I just wish I had felt this way a couple of weeks ago.
This past Sunday I was asked to speak during our worship services (for those unfamiliar with services in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, each member of the congregation has the opportunity, sooner or later, of being asked to give a short talk – maybe 15 minutes or so? during our worship services. This is because we have a lay ministry – no paid minister. We each take turns “teaching”). Anyhow, the topic was inviting the true spirit of Christmas into our homes. Terrible assignment for me, since I was completely stressed out, behaving badly in my home, and definitely NOT inviting the true spirit of Christmas into my home with my actions. Assignments like these are always two edged swords. On the surface, you are being asked to teach. Underneath, you are being asked to learn. I definitely learned and never was very confident about my ability to teach. It was humbling to be reminded forcibly that God expects better from me than to get myself all caught up in the self-made stress of the season.
My conclusions, after studying some addresses by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ (see the 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional for a great example) and thinking about examples I have seen and things we have tried to do in our family is that the true spirit of Christmas comes when we try to honor Christ through what we do. The meaning of Christmas is really the gift of Christ’s Atoning sacrifice for mankind. His birth only has significance because of what He did for each one of us when He suffered our sins and died so that we could live. If we truly feel gratitude for this greatest of all gifts, the Christmas season should be one of trying even more to follow Him in all that we do. All my grumpiness and bad feelings were definitely not honoring Him.
I’m not sure how I will change things up next year, but I really want to. I want my Decembers to be full of good feelings that come from serving others – not all those stressed out feelings when I’m worried about all the things that “have to be done”. And I hope that as we head into the new year that I can continue to try and honor Christ – being more aware of ways I can serve, working harder at being kind – especially in my home with my family!!