You'd think I would know better by now. (Insert sigh.) Every year I dream lovely dreams of having a Hallmark movie Christmas.
In those syrupy tales every home glows with beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. Dad loves to go Christmas shopping and put together complicated toys. Mom is endlessly patient and totally loving and she never, never, never loses her temper.
I suspect that's not quite your reality, either, although we may be able to fake it for a day or two.
What December looks like in the real world:
- Impossible schedules, with Christmas programs and parties and gatherings all converging on a few dates
- Never enough time
- Never enough sleep
- Dithering over where we'll go for the eat-too-much family dinner. (To be blunt, which side of the family has dibs on us this year, or is it our turn to host? And how much food will we have to prepare?)
- Kids or grandkids who tell us way too often, "I gotta have this for Christmas, Mom, please? PLEASE? PLEASE!"
- Conflicts over wanting to give gifts that light up our loved ones' eyes and trying to stick to the family budget
It's time to ask ourselves what really matters?
Suppose instead of scurrying around, reciting to ourselves, "I-gotta-remember-to . . . " we STOPPED for awhile and breathed in God's strength.
It helps to focus our thoughts on what he says to us:
"Be still, and know that I am God." --Psalm 46:10
"In quietness and trust is your strength." --Isaiah 30:15
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. --1 Peter 5:7
Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. --Colossians 3:15 NIV
But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.". . . For when I am weak, then I am strong. --2 Corinthians 12:9-10
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. --Philippians 4:7 NIV
(Don't you love that phrase, "transcends all understanding?" To me that means our hearts and minds can be at peace, in every situation.)
These verses can become the music in our minds and drown out the din and emptiness of commercialism.
For all of us, if we look back at our lives, what stands out are the people and the love.
That's true for our children, too. Right now we're laying down treasure in their memory banks and their hearts. Let's make it the real thing, like celebrating the birth of the Christ Child together and nestling into the warmth and love of family.
If we're preoccupied with the tinsel of cramming in all the "stuff" of the holidays we'll miss out on what really matters and so will they. Our calmness and gentleness will help quiet our children, too, and give them a pattern for how to live.
Joy comes from within, remember?
Growing along with you,