“Mommy, I know Christmas is a lot on you. Don’t feel like you have to try so hard. I see how much you have to do. We don’t have to drive 13 hours to Grandma’s house if it’s going to be too much for you.”
I took a deep breath and realized that my 12-year-old daughter had more sense than I did at that moment.
I was sick, my two sons were sick, and yet I was still packing all six of us to make the long trek to Grandma’s house. Because God forbid if anything got in the way of that holiday being special or fun.
What a disaster! Ha!
My daughter caught the craziness of the scene before I did and gave me a pass on trying so hard to make holiday magic work. When she spoke it snapped me back to reality. What am I doing? What am I trying to accomplish? This holiday isn’t going to be fun; it’s going to be a disaster.
My daughter’s comments made me realize something. My kids don’t need me to jump through hoops and juggle fire rings for them. They don’t need me to be pressured by my own expectation to make things perfect for them. They don’t need me to act out of guilt to attend a holiday at a relative’s house, when half the family is sick.
At Christmas, my children need me and their dad to point them to what matters most: Jesus.
I have a huge reputation of being obsessed with any holiday. My fall decor goes up September 1, because I believe that if that date is good enough for Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte to make its annual debut, it’s good enough for me.
The week before Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas decorations. This year we put up seven trees. Yes, I said seven. It may sound completely ridiculous to you, but my family loves it and we have a lot of fun with it, so the tradition will continue.
I bake cookies like a fine-oiled machine. I start churning out the iced, sprinkled Christmas cookies starting Thanksgiving night and continue to have them fresh on-hand throughout the season. Hot chocolate is in demand at our house during Christmas time, as we pull out our Christmas mugs and have them cocoa ready!
We have attended most of the major Christmas events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and will continue to do so until someone puts me in a straightjacket to restrain me. Yes, I realize you probably think I am crazy, and that’s okay because my family loves it, and I would do anything for them.
This year, however, I have forced myself to take a much different mental approach.
I have always thought that my children needed to have the pomp and circumstance of the traditions that my husband and I have provided, but it’s clear, they don’t care about it as much as I do. What I see as experiencing all we can at Christmas, they see as another thing that wears mom out.
When my daughter in so many words told me not to try so hard, I was frustrated with myself.
Had I, without even thinking, been trying so hard to impress the kids that I belittled Christ?
Celebrating the birth of Jesus doesn’t need my hot cocoa added to it to be special. It doesn’t need seven trees to be celebrated. It doesn’t need an array of Christmas outings to stand out.
It stands alone.
I think one way that we as moms unintentionally disrespect the birth of Christ is by adding too much to it. If we are more concerned with the activities of Christmas rather than the Nativity, we have pushed the reason for Christmas aside.
I looked at my daughter and laughed. With one statement she had released so much pressure. If she didn’t even need it, why do I put pressure on myself to do it? Is it possible, moms, that you to are wearing yourself out trying to make Christmas special, when your kids don’t need you to try so hard?
Take the pressure off and realize if the tradition your kids get is that Christ is Christmas, that will mean more to them in their lives than your hot cocoa or obligation vacations.
Now, we will continued to celebrate Christmas in our home in “Miles” style because Christmas can still be fun and joyful, but the pressure will be alleviated. If I am feeling exhausted and the activities aren’t bringing fun or joy to my family, my focus needs to shift to the Nativity.
Autumn Miles is the author of “Appointed: Your Future Starts Now” and the founder and CEO of The Blush Network, a conference ministry dedicated to spiritually challenging the way women think. Autumn is an accomplished speaker who leads women’s conferences nationwide through The Blush Network. She is also the host of “The Autumn Miles Show,” a Christian radio show on Salem Radio Network in Dallas, Texas and sits on the advisory council for the women’s ministry department at Liberty University.