I think we’re all happy to be done with the holidays. 2015 was a tough year for a lot of people! I had an interesting holiday season though and wanted to write about some things God taught me. I need to remember it when the holidays come around again. 🙂
I had a long list of things I wanted to do at Christmas. With my twins being 2 1/2 and out of the baby stage, it really seemed like this was the year we could do much more. In 2014, we were all very sick with a flu at Christmas. Connor’s birthday and all of my other plans were ruined. I prayed fervently that this year we’d stay well. I put a huge effort into feeding us healthy meals and faithfully administering vitamins and essential oils. We managed to fit in some fun activities; we had friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. We visited a children’s museum and a farm. We had a few play dates. I even had some bible study ladies over for an end-of-the-year brunch. Things were going so well. I actually saved up enough money to take advantage of those Black Friday online deals, and scored all of my kids’ Christmas gifts at amazing prices! I was rocking!
And then…we all got sick! I recall it was just a little less than 2 weeks before Christmas. We had gotten family photos done and cards made and I was excitedly planning a birthday celebration for Connor, who was turning 6 on December 23. When all 3 kids came down with a bad cold just a few days before our fun plans, I was very upset. It wasn’t anywhere close to as bad as the stomach virus last year, but STILL. Poor Connor was coughing and his throat hurt. He was miserable. The girls and Nick quickly followed. I cancelled the birthday celebration and pouted. I was cranky and angry for a few days. Why did I work so hard for nothing? Why did we always get sick around the holidays? Why did my plans get ruined? Why did my life suck so much?
Yeah, it was a ridiculous and immature pity party. I even had the foolish rant in my head that I may as well never celebrate Christmas again if this was always going to happen! After all, isn’t Christmas all about things going according to my plans?
I’m not sure how it happened since I was obviously in a stubbornly miserable mental state, but God got through to me. I remember vividly sitting there thinking “I only have one more week until Christmas”. And God clearly spoke to me and said “You don’t just have one quick week to try and get through. You don’t need to mourn the time you think you lost due to illness. You still have one whole week to enjoy. A whole week!”
It was a turning point for me. I knew I could chose to be miserable over my ruined plans and think that we couldn’t make that one week special. Or I could chose to make the most of the time we did have and still make Christmas a special time for my kids.
Did I want my kids to remember Christmas a time when Mommy was stressed out and cranky? NO. NO. NO. I felt terrible about the days I’d wasted acting so bummed out. I wasn’t going to do it anymore.
Thankfully, the colds eased up a bit. Just enough to keep everyone from feeling too sick to enjoy life. We fit in some low key activities that I had so wanted to do with the kids this year. We drove around looking at Christmas lights. We baked and decorated sugar cookies. We made some crafty gifts for Grandma and Grandpa. Our week turned around and was wonderful. I had many moments when things would get bumpy and I’d want to complain, but God gently chided me every time. When Felicity had a meltdown during our drive looking at lights, we turned up the Christmas music and sang.
Christmas Day came and was wonderfully relaxed. When the gifts had been opened and Christmas was officially over, I sat back and thought about everything. What went wrong and what went right. I had 2 lists pictured in my head and I realized with shame that I was so often focusing on that list of things that went wrong, beating myself up over what I should have done differently. It was another turning point for me, to give myself grace and appreciate everything God had allowed us to do and blessed us with.
When I threw out the bad list and focused on the good, I saw it was a very long list indeed. We did so many fun things! Our house was filled with friends many times over the months of November and December. We ate a lot of really good food. We were visited by carolers. We were moved and awed by a drive through living Nativity. We listened to Christmas music and hung bells on doorknobs, draped garlands and twinkly lights, hung our stockings, and tied red bows on our porch. The twins learned to sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and yelled out “It’s baby Jesus!” at every baby they saw.
I had many deep conversations with my now 6 year old about the birth of Jesus, salvation, Heaven. We didn’t need to stick to a fancy Advent calendar. God still moved in his heart. Driving around the neighborhoods and seeing the many nativity scenes displayed in yards was enough to prompt our conversations and focus towards Jesus. I’m so grateful for that.
We watched all of the movies on my list. 🙂 The Christmas Story, the Nativity Story, Elf, a Charlie Brown Christmas. We were so blessed to be able to give a few gifts that our children really loved.
We went to church on Christmas Eve and the kids played in snow that the church brought in, despite the suddenly warm weather that hit just the day prior. It was joyful just watching our church family romp in the snow, throwing snowballs and laughing. All the kids together. So much fun. The service was everyone together in the sanctuary, no child classes that day. It was a bit of an ordeal getting 2 year old twins to sit through a service, but no one melted down, so I call it a success. My favorite moment was singing Christmas songs with our church, watching Nick hold Felicity and singing Silent Night. Felicity was singing along and looked so happy. It was so wonderful.
So, yes, Christmas was actually a huge success. I’m so thankful God yanked me out of my dark place and talked some sense into me. Kids do get sick despite our best efforts. Plans go awry. I will probably go into the 2016 holidays with the same high hopes and lists of fun things to do. I pray that God will keep me focused on what really matters. That I’ll create warm memories for my kids. That they’ll look back and remember Christmas was magical, full of family and friends, warm sugar cookies, hot cocoa, twinkly lights, and baby Jesus.