My nine-year-old son has been initiating Christmas cheer around here. Not the teenagers. Not the parents. It has been the joy and wonder of the youngest that has motivated us to put up our tree, to read our Advent calendar, to decorate our house, to bake Christmas cookies.
I am thankful for this encouragement to find Christmas joy in the nooks and crannies of our home and our busy lives.
I get stressed at this time of year -- what mother doesn't? Yet, I don't always realize how much my children know that and dislike a stressed out momma.
During the past few years when life got a bit more topsy-turvy than usual (read about that here and here), I haven't had the drive to create all of our usual Christmas traditions. This year the kids were asking to bake cookies again since we hadn't done it in a few years. My oldest noticed the look on my face; he said that he would rather not do the cookies if it was going to stress me out.
His comment caused me to pause.
I know that the look on my face was partly due to the sigh in my heart at letting traditions, such as the cookie decorating, fall to the wayside. I love the rituals and the traditions. I want to be able to say that we decorated Christmas cookies: Every. Single. Year. But... I can't.
So part of my look was that disappointment and part of it was wondering: 'How can we fit it all in?' My oldest took the look to mean: Mom is stressed by this request.
I'm glad he spoke. It got me thinking.
First, I realized this: Life is stressful.There is a lot to do in this season, a lot of which hinges on the momma. But taking out the meaningful or fun parts will never reduce my life to being completely stress-free. Therefore, I must make time for joy. We must do I the activities that give our lives meaning.
However, this is where discernment is needed. These 'must-do' activities are not to be confused with pressure, or the obligations or the images I have of 'just how things are suppose to be.' They need to be the essential ones we really love.
I need to examine in order to reduce how much I need to do; having less to do also helps to reduce my stress level. Keep it simple. Keep the list short. Then, I need to be sure to keep the activities that give meaning and energy to our lives do not fall by the wayside because I am too stressed.
Secondly, I realized this: not only do I need to do those important, meaningful life giving activities, such as decorating Christmas cookies. I also need to participate in them with a non-stressed look on my face. It would be best if I would be light and free spirit and truly enjoy the moment.
It helps if I remember I have chosen this moment and it's worth it. I can do this by remembering that the fun, the memories, the traditions, they are not what add stress to my life. Life is just stressful.
So instead of throwing out all of the fun we're making time for a few of our favorite traditions this year: Christmas cards, birthday parties, and cookie decorating. We are filling our lives this season with opportunities for joy, laughter, and memories due to a momma listening to the desires of a nine-year-old boy and letting it inspire her to keep on, keeping on the very best things in her world.
How is this season going for you?
In this busy -- often stressful -- season:
Which activities bring you and your loved ones energy & joy?
Could you reduce your list to a small core of the 'most meaningful'?
What activities are the most important to keep doing for you and your family?