It’s been such a year, hasn’t it?! So much has been happening. For some, there have been restrictions, masks, separation from friends and family, home learning, travel limits and a longing for “normal”. For others, there has been uncertainty, family challenges, health concerns or conflict. These concerns have dominated our hearts and minds this year. And as we begin to prepare for Christmas, maybe you just don’t feel the usual level of excitement or energy. If that’s you too, let’s look at how we can chase joy this Christmas.
I think we build up certain expectations on what Christmas ‘should’ be. We get caught up in the gifts, making the decorations perfect, and stretching (or blowing) our budget. But we know Christmas is not about these things. It’s about family, God’s family, and the birth of Jesus all those years ago. So lets take a step back from the pressure and whirlwind of advertising and shops telling us what we MUST have or do to get the “perfect” Christmas, and think about what we really need.
Alexandra Kuykendall has some great tips in this video from MOPS International. She talks about how to focus on the meaning of Christmas personally, and as a mum, how to deal with the practicalities of this often busy season. You don’t have to say yes to every event or invitation. You don’t have to have the perfect tree or a mountain of gifts under it. Focus on what is important to you and your family.
Do YOUR Traditions
Don’t look over the proverbial fence and worry about what others are doing, as it’s sure to sour your Christmas joy. Your family celebrates Christmas in your way. In our family, the Christmas tree usually gets put up the first weekend in December. Our kids help their Dad put up fairy lights around our lounge room walls, and on the tree in our front yard. We like to tour the streets looking at Christmas light displays. Other families I know have a tradition of making and decorating a family gingerbread house. Another bakes cookies for their neighbours. In another, the children create their own Christmas “tree” each year in fun and inventive ways. While making those cookies, or decorating that tree, you are having fun with your kids, and building family bonds.
“Christmas is a love note we get to read every year” – Alexandra Kuykendall
Focus on Jesus
“The reason for the season” as the saying goes. When it all feels too much- the to-do list, the events, the spending, the stress- take a moment to remember what it’s all about. Do you really need to be doing the things that are stressing you out? Jesus came to bring us peace, joy and new life, not stress and a to-do list. If the family picture is imperfect, or the school concert costume lacking, you’ll likely look back on it in the years to come and laugh.
Focus on the story of Christmas. Alexandra has also kindly shared an excerpt with MOPS international from her book Loving My Actual Christmas, which lists some great ideas and different ways to bring the Christmas Story to life for your children. The Jesus Storybook Bible is another wonderful resource that simply and beautifully tells the stories of the bible, and demonstrates how it all points to Jesus. Perfect for adults and kids alike. (There is an advent reading plan too).
May your Christmas be full of joy. Remember when it’s all said and done, the rush ends, the gifts are unwrapped, the food is eaten, and the visitors leave. What always remains of Christmas is the gift of Jesus.