I love – and I mean LOVE – the Christmas season. November and December hold an excitement that is certainly not contained to kids alone. You know what I mean. Like when the weather cools down enough that you want to drink a peppermint hot chocolate or eat gingerbread cookies just because.
But here’s a transparent moment for you. I have a problem. I want everything perfect. I want to have a plan for the season, execute traditions and have the house free of clutter at least 95% of the time. Ok, 100% would be wonderful but we have three kids. I want the tree looking nice and, while I want help decorating, I want everything done the way I envision it. After all, I am the lady of the house.
But this year, I’ve been reminded of the importance of embracing the opposite. A few weeks ago me and the kiddos decorated our tree. Or rather, they decorated the tree and I redid it after they were in bed. The night ended and I sat back and relished in the final product. The tree looked great, the nativity scene was up, and the lights added perfect ambiance to the room. It was cozy and I was happy.
A couple of days later, I noticed there had been some additions. Three homemade ornaments that had been made last year with the kids’ pictures in them were hanging from the branches, and may I add in the smack center of the tree. My first instinct was to take them down or at least hide them in the back. Thank God for giving me the insight to think through this before impulsively following through with it. A few days later I watched as the kids excitedly showed off their ornaments to their grandparents on FaceTime.
Fast forward a couple of days and it was a repeat moment with much more visibility. I walked into our living room where five, simple red stockings had been hanging to find the middle one replaced with a mint green stocking that had been decorated at school. Our oldest son was all smiles as he worked on his finishing touches by taking down his wooden name piece that was hanging from the original stocking. He informed me that that was no longer needed because his name was clearly written on his green one. I started to protest (at least until our parties were over and it was just going to be family at home), but his joy stopped me in my tracks and I simply asked him, “Do you really want to leave this up even though it doesn’t match?” A big, “Yes” accompanied by his lingering smile was enough to melt away some of my perfectionism.
We had our parties and the kids’ decorations stayed put. I was a little surprised but I even had a guest comment about the green stocking and why it was different. I just smiled and told her how much our son loved it.
So this Christmas I’m learning to both let go and embrace. I’m learning to let go of the ideas that I get stuck on, to let go of perfectionism, to let go of the traditions that aren’t conductive in this season of life (we have three boys and I have to remind myself that their idea of fun is usually quite different than mine) and I’m learning to embrace the more important things. The moments we are creating today are the memories our kids will carry with them into adulthood. So for the bullet point people, like myself, I’ve made a list of the things that really matter this holiday season and things I never want to neglect.
I want to…
- Celebrate Jesus and teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas
- Celebrate the joy in our kids lives (if stockings and ornaments make them happy, I don’t want to dampen their enthusiasm)
- Teach our kids the importance of blessing and giving to others
- Slow down, look into their eyes and spend extra time with them doing what THEY like to do – legos, puzzles and, yes, even video games
- Include them in our ministry (we are a family and they need to know that they can make a difference even at their age)
If I can let go of all my preconceived ideas and remember these things, I think it’s going to be a great holiday. And I have a sneaky suspicion that we are going to make new memories and traditions that I’m not even expecting.