But then we're expected to have a clean house for guests, host family or friends, and find and wrap presents. Trim the tree. Decorate the house. Bake cookies. Visit. Go to Christmas parties... on and on it goes. It's exhausting just to think about December.
Here are some ideas to help you set priorities and enjoy the month:
- Remember that it's about Jesus. Write down some things you know about Him. Loving. Kind. Gentle. Giving. Caring. Constantly adjust your attitude to match His as you move into the season.
- Focus on people not things. What will make the people around you feel comfortable and loved?
- Clean where people gather: the kitchen, living room, the entry closet, and your bathroom/s. (Lock bedroom doors if you don't have time to tidy them.) If your main areas are tidy and clean, people feel comfortable in them.
- Decorate within your means and for your season of life. When the kids were little, we made decorations and hung unbreakable ornaments. As they got older, I hung more precious things on the tree.
- Establish a tradition or two. You don't have to have 10 family traditions. The kids will remember the one or two that they connect with. Watch to see what they love doing, eating, and where they want to go. Do it again next year and the next to set up a meaningful family tradition. Note: persist through the teens. Though they groan and moan, the continuity and memories build up as family history. Things that go wrong become tall tales. Good things create warmth and connections.
- Pray and read the Christmas story together. Read through a short Advent portion, like the one from Focus on the Family or click here. Thank God every day for the Savior who was willing to live among us. Think about it: God with us ... as a baby, toddler, child, teen, young adult, grownup. Marvelous and mysterious, isn't it?
- Keep the heart of Mary even though sometimes you'll feel like Martha! Listen to what God is saying ... even in the noise, the hustle and bustle of giving, and while guests come and go. An excellent reflection on this is Joanna Weaver's book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.
- Be nice. You'll feel crabby, overwhelmed, and impatient. We all do, especially when we feel stressed. Breathe deeply and take an internal timeout when you need it. Treat others with respect and model kindness to your kids. Let them know you expect them to behave with respect, good manners, and kindness to you and others, too. This can be as simple as answering the phone with, "Merry Christmas. John speaking."
- Jot down things you want to remember in a Christmas journal, a line or two at a time. Put it somewhere safe so you can recapture the memories in years to come.
- Last but not least, GIVE yourself away. Make philanthropy and service part of your Christmas. Take the kids to a shelter to serve. Buy and wrap presents for the less fortunate. Invite a family to spend Christmas with you. Sponsor orphan or support a missionary as a family giving project.