Sometimes I joke that I used to have a Type-A personality—organized, neat & tidy, and very prepared. These days, I’m just trying to keep my head above water. If I don’t miss a child's event or appointment in a day, I call it a success! I have an amazing husband who works hard for our family, 11 and 9-year-old daughters, a 4-year-old son, and a 6-month-old puppy who requires just as much attention as the kids. The Type-A desires are a recipe for disaster in my current stage of life.
During the holidays is when I still see evidence of my old ways. I have the desire to turn every free moment into something special. I want to check-off the boxes of holiday traditions, like looking at Christmas lights, wearing matching pj’s, baking and decorating cookies, watching Christmas movies, and decorating the Christmas tree together with hot cocoa accompanied by Christmas music and a festive fire. And of course, attending Christmas Eve service—all while expecting everyone involved to love every part of these traditions!
But last year I was forced to slow down. My mom was still recovering from a stroke. My dad and uncle were given serious medical diagnoses. Then my grandmother became ill and passed away—all within two months preceding Christmas. I knew I had to rearrange my priorities.
I chose to skip some traditions, focus on family relationships and take time to be alone with God. I was careful not to compare myself with the social media posts that made it look like everyone was doing everything fun and wonderful except us. Afterall, Christmas isn’t about the secular traditions, it's about the birth of Jesus Christ and how His life gives us hope, love, joy, and peace not just during the Advent season, but every day.
I’m reminded of a quote from Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall, “Christmas has more to do with the lasting than the temporary.” Moving into the Christmas season, the quote reminds me of my purpose here on earth: to grow God's kingdom and be an example to my children, family, and friends that Christmas and Jesus are something everlasting not temporary.
Instead of being at hospitals this year, I plan to resume our tradition of reading the Christmas story in Matthew, adding one verse at a time each night. On Sundays, the kids will light our advent candles and read about Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. Of course, we will sprinkle in some fun activities but focusing our days on God's love for us and sharing that love with others is most important.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” - 1John 3:16