By Kimberly Chastain
"This year will be different. I vow I won't get stressed out over presents, parties, cards, Christmas plays, putting up the tree and decorating, and all the many other tasks of the season. I will remember the true meaning of Christmas."
Do you find that all the Christmas chores steal your joy?
"For unto us a child is born" - Aahh the miracle of birth. The true miracle of our Savior's birth. As Christian mothers we are doubly blessed to celebrate Christmas. We know the joy and pain of childbirth. We can imagine an exhausted Mary looking at her truly perfect, holy baby.
How can we recapture the joy and the simplicity of the first Christmas?
Following are some suggestions for making this the "Perfect" Christmas
1. Decide how you want your family to experience the true meaning of Christmas. Ex. Will you help another family with presents? Our family now has a tradition of doing Christmas boxes for Samaritan's Purse. Our children love picking out items for the box and praying for the child who receives their box.
2. Prioritize what is most important to you. Maybe you can't do it all. You may choose not to send Christmas cards, but do a New Years note.
3. Decide what parties you can and cannot attend. Sometimes as a family we may rarely be home in December. So much for family time.
4. If you have young children, remember how important, normal routine and sleep schedule are for younger children and you. Taking a cranky toddler shopping is not a good experience for anyone.
5. Decide what traditions you want for your own nuclear family. Sometimes we are so busy going to extended families' homes we don't get to start our own family traditions. Try to have a leisurely Christmas morning with children enjoying their toys before rushing off to anywhere.
6. Start a tradition of celebrating Jesus birthday. Ex. Happy Birthday Jesus cake, reading the Christmas story before opening presents, or children having their own child size Nativity set to play with and tell the Christmas story.
7. Set a limit on Christmas spending and stick to it. Don't celebrate Jesus' birth by being in debt in January.
8. Take time to pray and think about the most precious gift of all. Often our quiet times are the first to go when we get so busy. Using an advent calendar with children will also help them focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
9. Be kind to yourself. You may not be able to do everything like your Mom did. Perhaps you can make slice-and-bake cookies with your children instead of homemade cookie dough. Your children will remember the fun of decorating cookies, not who made the cookie dough.
10. Remember that you are not superwoman and you can't do it all. Sit down with your husband and decide who can do what on your list. Children can help put stamps on Christmas cards. Be kind to yourself and rest in our Savior's loving arms.
I don't know if you or I will have the "Perfect" Christmas, but we can make a conscious effort to focus on our Lord. Things will go wrong and we will get stressed, but we need to keep our eyes on Him. We need to show and teach our children that Christmas is not about Santa and receiving gifts. Christmas is about the ultimate gift that we can never repay.
So, I wish you a "Perfect" Christmas with Christ' birth as your focus, and that you would be kind to yourself. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and experience the true joy of Christmas.
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