Leaning in to Rest

Ah, Christmas.  My absolute favorite Holiday.  Lit with sparkles and all things glittery, music playing, the smell of pine and cinnamon and the hustle and bustle of shopping for our loved ones.  And if this wasn’t enough to make it lovely, this season also brings my wedding anniversary.  So much to celebrate.

So why are so many of us so dang stressed out?

Twenty-one years and five kids ago, Amazon Prime didn’t even exist.  Can you imagine?  We actually drove to all the stores and physically carried all the gifts out, across parking lots, to our cars.  And gift cards?  They were a rarity.  We bought actual, you know, STUFF for each other.

Christmas is so convenient now with online shopping and gift cards and all the Christmas-hoarding world (of which I am a “proud” member) at your fingertips with the click of a button.  So wouldn’t it be logical for us to be less harried and more rested?

But we are not.

With all the choices and conveniences has come the impulse to add more and more to our celebrations.  More traditions, more decorations, more fancy trim added to the ribbon on top, more variety of everything.  We have Advent wreaths and Jesse trees.  We have devotional books for young and old and each chapter gives us an act of service AND a craft to do along with the appropriate song to sing.  We have matching PJ’s and progressive dinners and white elephant gift exchanges.  We have it all.  Right here.  Screaming at us:

“Do this.  Do it all.  Your kids’ well-adjusted adulthood depends on it.  They need tradition and memories and to be able to look back on their idyllic childhood with joy and wonder in order to be good parents themselves and pass it on to their children!”

Wait, what?

Did I just write that?  Yes, I did.  Because I bet that thought has crossed your mind at some point.  Somewhere along the way we have bought into the lie that our children need a perfect childhood in order to be happy, healthy adults.  Especially at Christmastime.  We believe Christmas should be fabulous.  It should be wondrous.  It should be…(insert whatever you hope your kids experience here.)

The older I get, the older my KIDS get, I realize how ridiculous and impossible this can be.  This year I put up less as far as decorations are concerned.  I got tired of dreading the take-down come New Year’s.  I was trying to put it ALL out, all the kids old creations, all the trees with all the stuff because it all held memories.  But this year I just couldn’t.  I was tired and just. wanted. Jesus.

And guess what?  The stuff I skipped and left in the attic?  They didn’t miss it.  I have learned what is important to them.  There are a few special traditions that they always mention.  A few.  So I stuck with those and we are all satisfied.  The house feels less cluttery and I didn’t hate Santa by the time the decorations were up.  🙂    I put out our Cradle to Cross Wreath and I’m reading a wonderful devotional with my younger kids almost daily.

Almost.  But we skipped the Jesse Tree and I’m letting them take turns moving the Elf because they like to.  I have a grown-up devotional I’m reading almost daily.

Almost.  Because the reality is that never in the history of parenting have we successfully finished an Advent devotional before Christmas.  We just get busy and lose focus and sometimes travel and its just not realistic for us.

And that’s ok!

Really!

Christmas is not about making lists.  It’s certainly not about checking them twice.  It’s not about fabulous decorating or cooking like those calories will not sit, every one, squarely on my hips.  Its about the Gift.  The baby.  The man that was and is the Messiah.  It’s about the FACT that God came down and a virgin miraculously became pregnant with the Son of God and gave birth to Him amongst no earthly fanfare but surrounded by all the glory of Heaven.  It’s about the fact that, though we have shaken our fists and God and told Him “No, thanks” a million times we were not forgotten and He came for us.  He came and lived the sinless life that was impossible for us and died the tortured death in our place in order to atone forever for our sins.  Christmas is about the fact that we have rest, true eternal rest in the depths of our spirit, because Jesus suffered for us.

Rest.

Now doesn’t that sound better than rushing around and trying to make everything perfect?  Because, no matter what traditions we keep or meals we cook nothing will ever come close to the perfection of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.

Rest.  Put aside the unnecessary and focus in.  Light a few candles and sit in their light, in the quiet of an early morning or late evening.  Cuddle up with your kids or your husband (or your kids AND your husband) and just BE.  Don’t let the rush of the season cause you to sweep the whole reason for it out the door.  Lean in to one another, lean in to the Savior, and lean in to rest.  Seek it and savor it when you find it.

And have a simply beautiful Christmas.

christmasball