Every year I say it.
I’m going to keep it simple.
I’m going to have that fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.
The problem is, moms? We are inundated!!
Commercials and movies and social media emblazoned with pictures of our friends doing Christmas-y things.
There are images EVERYWHERE of the ‘perfect’ Christmas.
The perfect gifts. The perfect family photos for the perfect Christmas card. Those perfect forever memories.
And now so often in the middle of it all we get these reminders…
“Remember the Reason for the Season” or “Presence not Presents.”
Everywhere we turn we hear the constant contradiction…
MAKE IT PERFECT BUT DON’T OVERDO IT.
I can’t help but feel I’m not doing it right!!
At our house we try to keep it simple. Really, we do.
Our kids get the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” plus one other gift. Five gifts plus some candy in a stocking each.
We put up a tree and stockings and a nativity, but we don’t do outdoor lights.
Santa comes on Christmas morning, but we don’t do the long lines to visit Santa and we certainly don’t do Elf on the Shelf.
We read some Christmas books and watch all the movies.
We bake a lot of cookies and just eat them all ourselves.
It sounds pretty simple.
Can I tell you I still feel overwhelmed???
Because someone has to buy all those gifts.
And five gifts for five kids is still a lot of driving around and standing in line and waiting for front porch deliveries.
Plus, teacher gifts and angel tree gifts and grandparent gifts and gifts for the stocking-stuffer fundraiser.
Then someone has to hide those gifts until it’s time to wrap and then find enough boxes that fit and then cut and wrap and tape all those gifts.
Someone has to buy the stuff to bake the million batches of cookies we love to eat and candy for the stockings and a bone for the dog.
Someone has to plan what to have for dinner and make sure everyone has something in their closet that fits for Christmas Eve mass.
And, even if it is just a random photo and a pre-made Costco card, someone has to drag and click and order the card and pick it up and slap on all the stamps and stick them in the mailbox.
Someone has to DO Christmas!!!
And guess who it is???
I wonder what the kids would think if I literally only provided my presence this season??? No tree or stockings or gifts or Christmas dinner or cinnamon rolls from a tube on Christmas morning.
None of it.
You know what occurred to me today?
The Christmas season isn’t simple because my life isn’t simple.
I have five kids, a geriatric cat, a crazy dog, and a crested gecko…not to mention a husband and a house to run!
My regular days are full of diapers and grocery shopping and laundry and dragging kids to and from school and cooking dinner and homework time and carting kids to basketball or soccer practice and reading books and brushing teeth and tucking in and re-tucking in.
My regular days are exhausting and I end up flopping on the couch at 10PM with a dazed expression and aching shoulders just hoping for a little quiet time with my husband and a few laughs from the Tonight Show.
Add to that all the ‘simple’ little memories we all strive for at Christmas and, SURPRISE…I’m overwhelmed!!!
Where is my simple, fun, old-fashioned family Christmas???
Where is my peace, love, joy, and hope???
Why am I so very near tears????
Tonight, instead of dragging kids around to Eli’s soccer practice, I sat at home with the little ones under our red fuzzy throw blanket from grandma watching A Christmas Story. And it dawned on me.
A Christmas miracle.
A simple Christmas season is an unattainable expectation because we don’t live in a Hallmark movie!!!
But I do certainly do have MOMENTS.
Moments of simple.
Moments when I want to shut my eyes and memorize every little detail.
Like that very moment with my little ones under our red snuggly blanket.
Like Elizabeth in her red and white polka dotted pajamas ooohing over the tree and pointing with her pudgy finger at all the ornaments, especially that red bird.
Like coming in to find Dan reading the Grinch to ALL the boys and how they laughed when he tickled them and how I just laid quietly on the bottom bunk. Watching. Taking that moment in.
Like finding last year’s unmade Christmas craft in the bottom of the decorations box and stopping right then and there to make it with James.
Like Luke admiring all the packages, especially the big ones, and his ridiculous guesses at what’s inside.
Like quoting Christmas Vacation with Isaiah. “Don’t throw me down, Clark!”
You guys, I think it’s possible for all of us.
Maybe if we look hard enough. If we wait patiently. If we squint our eyes a little bit. Maybe we CAN have a Christmas filled with simple little moments amid the chaos. A snippet here and there of joy. Perhaps a few seconds of peace. Minutes filled up with love.
That brings me so much hope!
And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
The birth of Jesus Christ our Savior.
And the hope He brings to my crazy, beautiful, ordinary life.
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