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surviving the holidays with grace

Around this time of year I begin to feel the “holiday panic” start creeping in. Do you know what I mean? Sheesh, I hope I’m not the only one! As soon as I flip my calendar over to November, I sense the nearness of Christmas and all that I want to get done before that special day. I tend to over complicate things…and procrastinate too…which is not a good combination. You might not be able to relate to all the thoughts that start filling my head but maybe you can relate to a few. Thoughts like…

What great toys should I give to my boys this year and how am I ever going to think of something to give to my husband…or to my dad?

I don’t think I need to buy wrapping paper this year because I bought it on clearance last year…but where did I put it?

I need to schedule family pictures and perfectly coordinate all of our outfits. And then I need to pick the perfect Christmas card…and it needs to be creative because everyone we know will see it. Or should we even send out Christmas cards this year…it is getting kind of expensive and I have all those Christmas gifts to buy too. I didn’t really budget for Christmas this year so things are going to be tight.

Maybe I should spend some time searching Pinterest for the perfect DIY teacher gift and while I am there I might as well start pinning ideas for decorating my house. But when I am I going to find time to decorate because we have a million Christmas activities and parties to attend? I don’t even know when we will find time to go pick out a Christmas tree!

And speaking of parties I need to hit up the thrift stores and pick up ugly Christmas sweaters for our small group party. I hope they still have some left.

My house is a disaster!

I heard the ladies in my Bible study talking about all these creative things they are doing to teach their kids about Jesus’ birth. Sometimes I don’t even know where to start with all that…and honestly I am too stressed out and can’t really find the time to squeeze that into my day. I remember trying last year and both of my boys were fighting before we even got started and sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it. I’ll just worry about finding them cute Christmas outfits instead. We can decorate Christmas cookies together too!

And we probably should give…since Christmas is about giving. Maybe we can throw together one of those Operation Christmas Child Boxes some night this week. Maybe.

Oh, and I write a blog so I’d better make sure that I take beautiful pictures of all these things we are doing so that I can post them on there too!

It makes me exhausted and even a little tense just to write all those thoughts down. And while this may be exaggerating a little…I am embarrassed to say that there have been many times during the holidays when “holiday panic” would be the perfect way to describe the condition of my heart. As the days in November and December fly by I begin to think to myself, I just have to make it through the holidays…I just need to survive.

I had the privilege of sharing with the mom’s group at my church last week.  Two of my dear friends shared with me and the original topic was “surviving the holidays”. As we discussed our ideas we all came back to the truth that the only way to survive the holidays is with Christ at the center. We want to survive the holidays with grace. And if our hearts are focused on Jesus, it really shouldn’t be about surviving at all! In Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Noel Piper says that our Christmas celebrations should be a “picture of anticipation and waiting for God’s plan to be completed, a picture of our joy in the salvation he has begun for us.” We are remembering and worshiping and waiting for Gods plan to be completed. That is what Christmas is all about.

I long for my family to understand what Christmas is all about and I’m sure you do too. The presents and parties and cookies are a fun part of Christmas but that’s not what really matters. Only Jesus matters. But if I’m honest, my own heart often doesn’t reflect that truth at this time of year. I have only been a mom for five years now, but I’m quickly realizing that I am the one who sets the tone in my home.

It starts with us ladies.

It starts with examining our own hearts as we approach this advent season. Then, as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the traditions we choose for our families and how we give and love others becomes the natural outflow of our hearts.

I know it is a little premature to be talking about Christmas. Focusing on gratitude as we near Thanksgiving definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. But as I spoke last week I realized how thankful I was that I had taken the time to think and pray about preparing my own heart for the holidays. If I had waited until December 1st I’m sure I would have easily been sucked into the busyness of the season and missed out on Who it is all about. I know, because I’ve allowed that to happen many times before. So this year I want to think and plan ahead. I want my heart to be prepared before the season rushes by. I don’t want to miss keeping my eyes on Jesus this year.

More on this tomorrow…

  • Deb Hintz - Thanks Jess for sharing this. It was exactly what I needed as I’m feeling the need to start rushing to fit everything in… both at home and in my classroom.ReplyCancel

  • Kristen - Great post…I just wanted to share: last year at this time I was pregnant with my second daughter, due November 25. I knew that anything I wanted to get done for Christmas had to be done before her birth. I made a HUGE must-do list in September and made about as much progress as you’d expect from a tired pregnant lady with a two year old. On October 23, we were told that our little baby had a malformation in her brain and the drs were unsure of how she would be at birth. Best case scenario, she would need brain surgery at 6-8 weeks old. As you can imagine, that holiday to-do list was forgotten.

    Gabrielle Joy was born on 11/19/12, stable with no signs of hydrocephalus or heart failure, Praise The Lord! After a week in the NICU we were discharged and went home. I’m sharing this because our holiday season was so simple last year. Simply us praising God for Gabrielle and resting in the Hope and Peace Jesus Christ brings/brought as we faced treatments for Gabrielle. (She’s since had two surgeries in NYC, in June and September, and will have a third, hopefully final in February -and she’s an amazing little girl! Still no signs of any trouble). While I wouldn’t choose these trials in order to have a simple Christmas, it was so nice to not be bogged down by all the Christmas craziness last year. Gives me prospective this year on what’s truly important at Christmas and what should be on my to-do list!ReplyCancel

  • Chey-Anne - Excellent post! And yes, yes, yes to everything you stress about! I just want to relax. We cannot do it all! Jesus is the reason for the season! Really needed this today-thanks!!!ReplyCancel

  • amy jupin - YES!! i can’t wait to read more on this. so, so very important and so hard too.ReplyCancel