We had originally planned on posting this next Monday - BUT I thought it would be better to get it out to you now, before you have run yourself ragged.
It's the final hour. The big day is practically here. Are you ready? How's your sanity? How's your family?
It's tempting every year to turn this final week of what is intended to be a joyous celebration into a major push to get everything done--presents under the tree, hair tied in rags for Christmas Eve curls, fudge made, elaborate dinner perfected, house spotlessly cleaned and decorated, shoes shined, choir music rehearsed to perfection, Advent devotions pushed through, and kids...oh, what about the kids?
What about the kids? What about that man you married? What about the mama that birthed you and the grandmother that loved you before her baby was even old enough to have you?
Just because it's crunch time doesn't mean it's okay to prioritize the holiday over the people. Often we justify letting our priorities slide a little by saying, "But I'm doing this for my family. I want to give them a perfect Christmas."
Do you want to give them one "perfect" day at the expense of all the days leading up to that day?
While you're creating memories for your family of a "perfect" Christmas, where are you positioning yourself in the memory? The frazzled mama? The harried cook? The exhausted body taking up space on the couch but not taking part in the joy of the day?
Okay, two more questions:
What are your actions saying about your priorities? How are you shining the love of the Babe in the manger by focusing on perfecting the day instead of cherishing the children?
Mama, give yourself permission to let go. Give yourself permission to ask for help, to cross things off your list, and to order pizza if it comes down to that. And then give yourself permission to not feel guilty about it.
Instead of using these last few days to struggle to achieve Christmas perfection for your family, use these last days to draw your family closer to the manger and to each other.
Sure, there is still work to be done, but instead of shooing your little ones away so you can give them a great Christmas a few days from now, invite them to join you. I know, that means the house won't be quite as clean and the wrapping won't be quite as environmentally friendly, unless two rolls of tape on one gift is considered green. (Personally, I'm good with that.) I know you might end up scratching a few appetizers off the menu and the stuffed mushrooms will have a little more stuff than 'shroom. I know there will be a little extra mess and a little less fudge.
Sure, there's still Christmas fun to be had and loose ends to tie up, but what about your hubby? I know putting hubby's needs ahead of your own might mean missing out on a last-minute shopping spree with the girls. I know that including him instead of working alone means the wrapping corners might not be as perfectly angled as you'd prefer. I know there will be a few less cookies on the platter this year.
Who stinkin' cares?!
By including your children and your family, you tell them you love them more than the holiday, more than perfect wrapping and full cookie plates. By being willing to give up that little bit of Christmas perfection for them, you are making memories that feature the entire family together, savoring the joy that comes from a simple Christmas. By focusing on the meaning of Christmas in a natural way through your time together, you're showing that the love of the Babe in the manger is part of who you are, part of real life, not a regimented activity reserved for Sundays, Wednesdays, and 7 p.m. during Advent.
Slow down this week. If the hair is uncurled, it's uncurled! So what! If the wrapping looks like you did it in your sleep with your toes, so what! If a couple Advent activities are left undone, so what! If the focal point of your Christmas Eve buffet is frozen pizza and Cheese Whiz on Ritz crackers, but your whole family is smiling, so what!
Make the people part of the process. Make them your focal point. Make them your priority. After all, the Savior Babe in the manger was all about the people, not the trappings.
I talk more about focusing on what matters at Christmas in my book From Frazzled to Festive: Finding Joy & Meaning in a Simple Christmas. It also includes a chapter for removing the frazzle by focusing on Christmas after December 25, so jump on it today and put the principles into practice all year for smoother, less frazzled, and more meaningful Christmases.
Christy has also generously offered all of our readers 20% off her book, From Frazzled to Festive: Finding Joy & Meaning in a Simple Christmas with code 20FORTHRIVING.
Christy Bagasao is the face and pen behind The Simple Homemaker and author of the book From Frazzled to Festive: Finding Joy & Meaning in a Simple Christmas. Christy was once burdened by unrealistic expectations; her life was over-booked, over-cluttered, and overly stressful. She has since learned to embrace an uncomplicated life and to find joy in the simple things--particularly faith and family.
Christy and her husband, contemporary Christian musician Stephen Bautista, travel the USA full-time with their music mission. Together with their seven "roadschooled" children and their 125-pound dog, they live in a 300-square-foot travel trailer which they tow behind their big white van, the Bagabus. Yes, this family knows a thing or two about simplifying. They share their adventures at The Travel Bags.
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