You know most of those self-imposed holiday deadlines are bogus, right? Yes, you require structure to accomplish your goals, but I feel you going overboard. The stresses in your life are great enough without foisting new obligations upon your beleaguered schedule.
You try to recreate the splendor of holidays past, afraid the kids will miss out on what was formative in your own development. Each year provides unique perspectives. Now, your littlest can’t wait to sit on Santa’s lap and whisper his wish list. Your three girls still live at home, and although you don’t hear from him often, the oldest still calls now and then.
The house smells of pine and cinnamon, with tinsel and fallen needles sucked into the vacuum each afternoon. The manger scene graces the top of the mantle, and your miniature Christmas village sparkles. Lights illuminate the windows and wreaths make festive the doors. If some of the decorations show their age, they are more precious for their antiquity. The outside looks bare, but it is no real matter.
You organized trips to the store so that the kids could purchase their gifts. Each is wrapped and resting beneath the decorated tree. You’ve bought, wrapped, and organized your own purchases. True, you wanted to buy so much more, but at least everyone has something special to unwrap. You pray they will acknowledge the reason behind the gift-giving, an exchange of love and admiration. They are kids, though, so it may be a few years until they understand.
You explain the exchange of gifts at Christmas as an imitation of the gifts brought by the wise men at Epiphany. Your family celebrates Jesus’ birth with joyful hearts. God doesn’t care for finery. He allowed his son to be born in the humblest of circumstances.
With the approach of holy week, perhaps it is time to focus on what really matters. Time with the kids is fleeting. You’ve experienced the oldest’s march into adulthood. The others are not far behind in their maturation. So bake the cookies with those who will participate, but don’t worry over whether or not you’ve made enough varieties. Heck, who really needs cookies anyway, or candies or pies either for that matter? Sing carols and hold hands at church. Watch the sappy films while snuggling on the couch and sampling flavored popcorn. Sleigh rides and building snowmen are best followed by a mug of hot cocoa and time before a roaring fire in the fireplace.
Remember, the stockings will not always hang by your chimney. Take care to recall in the hustle and bustle you are working for memories. Pour your heart into them. They are what matters in this celebration of faith.
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