This is a season where I find myself creating unrealistic expectations for perfection (which is actually something I do on a regular basis but the holidays make this struggle of mine oh-so-much-worse).
I want my kids to behave perfectly for the Christmas photos and sweetly thank everyone for their new gifts. I want my cookies to be gorgeous and my crafts eye-catching. I want my home to look beautiful. I want the boys to sit still on Santa’s lap. I want to attend all the Christmas parties and prepare adorable Christmas-y snacks to tote along. I want to find everyone the perfect gift. I want to not gain 200 pounds.
But what happens when things don’t go the way I hoped?
I get distracted, impatient, angry, disappointed, emotional, and busy mentally escaping somewhere on my iPhone.
Which really only perpetuates the problem as social media and Pinterest usually make me feel greater pressure to do more and be more!
I certainly don’t want to miss out on any special moments with my boys during the holidays by being stressed out (or somewhere in the fetal position) because of unrealistic expectations, so here are 4 quick reminders on how to be present with our families this Christmas and savor this sweet time with JOY the whole month long.
Let It Go
Most of you have young kids and know how hard it is to simply take a shower. This may not be the right time to decide that you want to host Christmas and prepare a 5-course meal and deliver handmade presents to all 45 guests.
May I encourage you to consider something? In the words of Elsa – LET IT GO. Seriously. Pour a big bucket of grace over your head and let someone else do it or simply be okay with it not getting done.
For years I would make these super cute felt Christmas ornaments for everyone in my family (see them HERE) and THEN I HAD A BABY and the idea of making those ornaments completely overwhelmed me. So one year I just stopped. This freed up a lot of time and mental energy and even money so that I could focus on building other traditions that included my boys and *didn’t make me crazy.*
Is making Christmas cards for everyone becoming a burden? Take the year off.
Is it getting too expensive to buy presents for your entire extended family? Talk this over with your husband and find a better way – Secret Santa or something similar. Your bank account will thank you!
Attending that late night Christmas party with the entire fam will make your babies a nightmare for the rest of December? SKIP IT and put them in bed early even!
Do you bake 45 different cookies every year and it just might send you to the loony bin? Narrow your selections down to 3 and be done.
The goal is to figure out what will help your family and you be the best you can be during the holidays.
It’s hard to enjoy everything when you’re feeling tired and stretched thin.
So what are the things/events/crafts/traditions you want to do the most this Christmas? Pick just a few and then focus your energies on making those things happen instead of trying to CRAM IT ALL IN. Bake cookies with the kids, attend a Christmas Eve service and write a card of thanks to your kids’ teachers. BAM. Anything else that gets done will be like icing!
My priority during the Christmas season is always to do things that keep Jesus at the center. You can check out my favorite Christ-Centered Christmas ideas HERE.
I mentioned that Social Media can fuel the problem of not being present during the holidays. Not only does looking at our phone pull us away from the present, but also because we get tangled up in comparing ourselves with others – which is a total joy killer.
We spend 5 minutes scrolling through our Instagram feed and we see our friend Sally doing unbelievably creative Elf on the Shelf poses every. single. day, we see Claire hosting a party fit for Southern Living magazine, we see Jamie and her entire family (including husband) wearing matching monogrammed Christmas pajamas, and we see Abby working out at the gym inspiring everyone to not gain weight during the holiday season.
Somehow we translate those 4 different people’s best moments as new items on our to-do list and expectations that MUST BE FULFILLED or else we are utter failures.
For reals? That is just a recipe for crazy.
Stop comparing yourself to everyone and decide to simply ask the Lord every day what HE THINKS. What does He want you to do this Christmas? His opinion is all that really matters.
All the striving for perfection throughout the holidays can cloud our perspective when imperfect moments present themselves as opportunities for joy and thanksgiving.
When the kids accidentally push the gingerbread house off the table, instead of collapsing on the floor in a puddle of tears, close your eyes, breathe in real deep, laugh, and give thanks for a memory no one will ever forget (especially your dog).
Or give thanks for the disaster on Christmas morning. Or be grateful for the presents that look awful but your toddler helped you wrap. Or offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the tree that is decorated from the middle up because your house is full of precious, busy, little people.
Gratitude pulls you into the here and now and opens your eyes to all the good – even in the midst of messy.
I always wonder how Mary coped with having to ride on a donkey while 9 months pregnant, give birth in a dirty stable, and put her newborn baby in a germ-infested feeding trough.
I would imagine gratitude had something to do with it.
In fact, the entire Christmas story – from the moment unwed Mary received news of her pregnancy – is an example of what it looks like to surrender expectations of perceived perfection in order to humbly receive from the Lord the better plan.
Which, with God, is always perfect.
And always brings joy.
I am praying for you, sweet sisters!
– Julie 🙂
*Would you like a FREE Printable of the inspiring To-Do List above? Go HERE!*