Help for the Holidays

I was pregnant with baby #2.  It was Christmas Eve.  We had already been to one set of Grandparents’ and were running late to get to our next stop.  We had the car loaded down with gifts and were hitting the road for the hour and a half trek to the next house.

We received a call from the house we were headed to and they wanted us to stop and pick up something.  We had to try several stores before we found one open with the item.  

By the time we arrived we were really late.  I walked in the door and (I am not making this up) they were all mad. I did exactly what any pregnant woman would do at a time such as this.  I burst into tears.  

Two more kids and almost two decades later, holidays look much different.  Honestly, I am different,  Thank the Lord in Heaven.  (I am not joking.) But what changed? 

help for the holidays

Holidays need boundaries.  

When we were young and had our first littles we were just learning.  We barely knew ourselves much less each other.  And then we had little people in the mix.  We lived near all of our families so it seemed reasonable that we should be able to function pretty much like we always had.  That thought was absolutely ridiculous.  

After the first couple of holidays of more than one baby we realized that if we (children included) were going to get any enjoyment at, all over the holidays, we were going to have to make changes.  

We had to regroup on our traditions.  We were going to make our family a priority.  Festivities with others had to move further away from Christmas or they had to be incorporated into what we already had going on. 

help for the holidays

Babies need naps…especially during high energy times.  

We started building in driving time.  We knew our kids would fall asleep in the car.  So we started planning for that.  Christmas day we would go to brunch at my Mom’s house and we would drive around for at least an hour after that.  Taylor and I would get to talk and visit.  It was our mini Christmas date.  When we drove up to his parents’ house our kids would have had a nap and we could all more pleasantly enjoy the next celebration.  

I had to stop expecting myself to be supermom.

Somewhere along the way I bought into a lie that said that I was the keeper of Christmas happiness.  It was my job to make certain that all people had the best Christmas ever.  I could cook all meals, purchase all presents, host parties, wrap all the presents, decorate, serve the needy, minister to other moms, clean the house all while homeschooling our children.  (I am exhausted just typing this.)  

I am one human being.  
Jesus is the Savior.
I am not.

Now I remind myself to breathe.  I stop and assess where I am in my heart.  Am I begin nice to me?  

I say “no” more often than I don’t.  

For example, I don’t do the Samaritan’s purse gifts.  (Corporate gasp from all.)  I stink at it.  With the best intentions I would take the kids and make all the purchases. They never all fit in the box.  And for two years in a row I would miss the drop off date.  I spent time and money to love on kids who never got loved on by us.  I decided that was not the best use of either my time or money.  

I don’t host a Christmas Eve gingerbread house making party anymore.  Occasionally I will agree to have one when my kids are begging, but it has to be another time during December.  (Not to mention the kids really don’t need that 10 pounds of sugar the night before Christmas.)  

Now I have to tell you.  Some of these changes we made have not been the most popular with our kids.  There has been some weeping and gnashing of teeth.  But I go back to the supermom point.  They may not understand until they have their own children.  Oh heck, they may never understand.  But the truth is, they don’t have to.  Sometimes we have to do what we have to do, wether anybody else ever understands.  

help for the holidays

Keep the main thing the main thing.

Christmas is about Jesus’ birth.  Plain and simple.  That is what I want to focus on and what I want to be helping our kids focus on.  I am always looking for an opening to talk about the greatest Gift we ever received.  

This year I have planned ahead.  I have written a reading plan for the month of December.  It is written more for younger children but can be modified to use with older kids.  My goal is to spend time each day, even if it is a few minutes at dinner or bedtime, focusing on how God sent His son on our behalf.  If you would like to join with our family in this, check out the post Our December Family Bible Study.  

Remember this friends, don’t loose heart.

Take the holidays one step at a time.  You are not perfect.  Don’t expect yourself to be. Your kids aren’t perfect. Don’t expect them to be.  We can only do the best we can do.  Slow down and breathe.  Stay present and enjoy the day you have been given. If you need help ask for it.  Resist the urge to be all things to all people.  You and your family can enjoy the holiday and rejoice over the one that the angel spoke of when he said “I bring you good news of great joy for all people.”

We have had a lot of fun articles shared over the holidays and want to share them with you! Click on our Peaceful Holidays Series and see our guest post authors.

Also be sure to check out Robin Evans’ article Navigating Family, Because We are a Lot.