It’s strange to return from November on the Equator to December in full swing in the Lone Star. To an unlit house, undecorated tree, unwrapped gifts. And six days of unturned Advent pages.
Motherhood and Christmas go together. It’s mostly up to Mom to hang the stockings over the mantle with care, to make the house happy and bright, to play Santa if she so chooses, to handle the wrapping and coordinate the baking and to keep Christ in Christmas…. It’s a pleasure and pressure pot, all this merry-making.
And throw in hectic calendars, three school band concerts this week, a 6 year old turning 7, a basketball game and the emotional ups and downs that sometimes accompany the holidays… oh, and jury duty on a Monday.
It’s enough for an undoing.
“Mom, we are so behind on Christmas,” my 6 year old said as I stood over an intimidating pile of unwashed laundry and unpacked suitcases.
She wanted to do the things of Christmas. And I was about to come unraveled.
Her words matched my own holiday To Do list, the one that reminded me that if we were really going to capture the magic, we would have to chase it down, and fill our days with pin-worthy recipes and memory-making and house-decorating, shopping and crafting, parties and handmade gifts in recycled jars.
She precariously carried a box of ornaments from upstairs where they’d been sitting since November-something. Itching to catch up, I opened the plastic lid and held a red glass Santa, a favorite from my childhood. And it slipped right thru my fingers and shattered.
Into a thousand bright pieces against the unforgiving tile.
It left me feeling shaky.
It left me looking around for something stable.
My oldest rushed into the room frantically looking for her winter scarf that matched the cozy sweater that went with the tall brown boots. She turned the house and the atmosphere upside down as only a teen girl can do and before I could say ho ho ho, it was a winter storm of attitude and anger.
Peace, it’s what I crave. Not just in my home, but in my heart this Christmas.
Peace that says Rest.
Because this year, I’ve decided we won’t catch up. We won’t mark it all off our list. We won’t get the best cyber deals or go ice skating at the mall (thankfully). We won’t make homemade ornaments or trim our tree to be magazine worthy. There won’t be an Elf on our Shelf.
We will be behind this Christmas.
But isn’t that was followers do…stay behind? They are led. By a Leader. The One searchers found swaddled in a barn, born to die. To be the gift we unwrap this Christmas.
And He is saying Peace, be still. Not as the world gives, but as I give.
I swept up the glass on the floor and asked this Savior born in a messy stable and a broken world to give me a stable home this Christmas.
To fill me with peace, not more pieces, to quiet the raging, waiting list and help me focus on the unending gift of His presence. The Present.
How to Have a Stable Home This Christmas With Your Children:
1. Do less Stuff: Resist the urge to do it all. You don’t have to make all your gifts, compete with the neighbors, be Mom of the Year this season. It’s easy to get so tangled in the festivities that we are left exhausted and undone. I remember having a meltdown one year because I missed a couple of devotions on the Advent Calendar with my children. Oh, y’all. Christmas is not about doing and I’ve learned that the hard way.
2. Be the Gift: Want to bless those in your life? Want to give your kids the most memorable gift ever? Be the gift. Give your love and time. Turn off the distractions and live.
2. Stop Keeping Up: I’m not visiting Pinterest these days. Once I decided I can’t keep up with all the perfection of matching Christmas pajamas and hand stamped gift wrapping, the desire to keep up left me. We can get so wrapped up in doing Christmas, we miss the true meaning altogether.
3. Seek Peace: If you long for peace this season-in your home and heart- find Jesus. If you’re kids need peace, your marriage, He’s there. That’s where we will find peace. Jesus is Peace.
4. Be Still: I love Ann’s new Advent Devotional, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. If I could recommend one resource, this is it: It’s short, daily, doable chunks of inspiration (even if we are days behind). It’s a moment for our family to connect around the table, add an ornament to our simple Jesse Tree and pause our busy lives. I especially love the fill in the blank spaces for reflection.
5. Be Led: Instead of following our culture down a sparkly-lighted path that demands more is more, be a follower. Be a disciple of Jesus, our leader. The great thing about our children is they will generally follow where we lead. He will guide us if we let Him.
Sometimes life can feel precarious and uncertain this time of year.
The only way to remain unshaken is to start at the stable.