Warning: If you’re looking for a deep theological article today, this isn’t going to be it. 🙂
This is more of a “this-is-how-my-life-is-going-right-now-and-I-hope-it-encourages-you-post.”
So…Christmas is my all-time, hands-down, no-contest, favorite time of year. I love everything about Christmas. I love the decorating, the baking, the shopping, the wrapping, the snowing, the singing, the hustle, the bustle. Call me crazy, but I love it all.
Just the scent of pine floods my mind with a host of precious memories from my childhood. (Like the time I convinced my dad it was NOT too cold to drive to the Christmas tree farm and chop down our tree. The wind chill was 40 degrees below zero. My powers of persuasion being what they were–who can resist their teenage daughter’s pleading eyes?–he agreed to take me. The wind whipped our precious tree right out of our hands, and it rolled ALL THE WAY down a hill. And the drive home with the back of the station wagon propped open? That was COLD. But we got our tree! I was one happy girl.)
Years later, living in Australia with three kids of my own, I was determined to make Christmas just as special for my boys. I decorated the house top to bottom. We baked cut-out Christmas cookies together, frosted, and decorated them. We constructed a gingerbread house every year. And not the store-bought kits, mind you! We made ours from scratch!
(I thought you might enjoy a peek back in time…I found these photos in a Christmas scrapbook I made from 2008. My teenage sons are very gracious in allowing me to use their pictures, but under no circumstances am I allowed to call them cute or adorable. So I’m not. But I’m thinkin’ it!)
We participated in every Christmas activity available–caroling, the Christmas cantata, the Christmas program. We had Christmas parties at our house, inviting church friends over to sing carols and eat Christmas goodies with us.
I even stamped home-made Christmas cards and sent them out to family and friends, complete with an annual Christmas letter.
I didn’t realize just how Christmas-crazy I was until one of my Australian friends started calling me the Christmas Queen. I didn’t mind. If I could have arranged for snow to fall in our little corner of Australia, I would have!
My goal for Christmas every year was really this: to create wonderful memories of Christmas for my boys, just as I have of my childhood Christmases.
The beautifully-decorated tree and house.
The wonderfully-wrapped surprises under the tree.
The whole house smelling of Christmas baking.
The special times with family.
Fast-forward to 2017. Our circumstances have changed drastically. As in, we now have deer in the backyard instead of kangaroos, and I work much longer hours than I did previously.
I don’t work part-time, as I used to. I don’t even work full-time. I operate a daycare, and there’s this thing about daycares: they have to be open before and after the parents’ working hours. So I’m gone from my house nearly 11 hours each weekday.
All that adds up to this: I can’t be the Christmas Queen anymore. In fact, I’m not even a Christmas Princess. I feel that I’m somewhere between a Christmas Pauper and the Court Jester. (The latter because working in a daycare depletes a certain amount of brain cells each day, leaving you feeling slightly crazy.)
This year my boys are 13, 16, and 18. My oldest will be off to college next year, and I wanted desperately to do some of our special traditions this Christmas. But there just isn’t time. I can fuss about it all I want, but I can’t put more time into my day.
And so I decided to just relax and let it go. We got our tree up, and the house is decorated. We sang in the Christmas cantata. We’ve done some shopping. (Although none of the gifts are wrapped yet!)
I’ve come to the realization that my Christmas dreams are not going to match up to my Christmas reality, and that’s OK. There’s a verse that has been a comfort to me, as I’ve pondered these things.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
This crazy, busy, no-time-to-even-sit-down season of my life is not going to last forever. Life will not always be this way.
There will come a Christmas when I’ll have time to bake my favorite sugar cookies again. (Thankfully there’s a big batch of them waiting our arrival at my mom’s house!) Perhaps one of these years I will even have time to stamp some Christmas cards and decorate a gingerbread house.
But not this year, and I’ve come to accept that. Instead of worrying over the things I’m unable to do with my boys, I’ve decided to be grateful for the things I can do with them.
A couple Saturdays ago, we decorated our tree together. It was absolutely hilarious. If you’ve never decorated a Christmas tree with three teenage boys, I highly recommend that you try it. You will laugh so hard you will have enough happy endorphins to last all of 2018.
Hanging Christmas lights on the roof was also quite the experience. We decided to combine gutter cleaning with light hanging this year to save time. Which was a great plan, except for one thing:
The great basketball challenge. Because what better time to shoot hoops than when you’re on the roof?
And of course, the whole thing had to be filmed. (One must always document shots taken from the roof.)
Yes, this season of my life is different, but I’m learning to stop worrying over things I can’t control. I’ve come to realize that the secret to finding joy this Christmas is to slow down and enjoy the moments, even if they’re not the moments I had planned.
If your Christmas is looking a bit like mine–your Christmas dreams and your Christmas reality aren’t quite matching up–I’d like to encourage you to do the same thing.
Let go of the perfectly-planned Christmas and just enjoy the moments with your loved ones. Don’t get so worried about the things you’re not able to do that you forget to embrace the gifts God has given you.
I pray you have a blessed Christmas season with your friends and family!
With love from a former Christmas Queen