I’ve always loved the activities of Christmas—the decorating, the baking, the parties, the gifts … everything. When I was a teenager, my mother allowed me to express my creativity and my vision for Christmas by letting me decorate much of our home myself. It helped that I had three brothers, all younger, who had no interest in holiday decorating beyond throwing tinsel on the tree.
I even set up a card table in my bedroom and became the gift-wrapping queen of the house—I wrapped all the gifts. I loved making everything beautiful for Christmas.
When I became a mother, I wanted Christmas to be a memorable and magical time for our children. But somewhere along the way, the creative ideas and unalterable traditions multiplied. By the week before Christmas I was exhausted, the holiday sparkle had faded, and the meaning I longed to create seemed unattainable.
The maddening pressure to pull off a perfect Christmas—which so many moms feel—leads to doing too much. And on that count I was guilty. The result for me was a feeling of failure, a very unhappy emotion for this holy day.
I can’t imagine the pressure I would have felt if Pinterest had been available to me during those years. The ideas on Pinterest are so seductive. Search for “Christmas wreaths on Pinterest,” for example, and you’ll find pictures of wreaths, garlands, and door hangings of all shapes, sizes, and colors. You can make wreaths out of snowflakes, poinsettias, candy canes, peacock feathers, cookie cutters, gingerbread men, vintage light bulbs, and much, much, much more.
You look through these pictures and think of the fun you and the children could have making all these decorations. You dream of how beautiful they would look on your front door, or hanging in your kitchen. But if you’re like me, making all of those things would only increase the stress.
Yet Pinterest is only the latest manifestation of the holiday pressure that moms have felt for decades. And you know what the real problem is? We mistakenly think all these beautiful ideas are what will add meaning to what we know should be a celebration of supreme significance.
What I really longed for when I was a young mother, when I was feeling all that pressure, was something to help me use Christmas as an opportunity to communicate biblical truth to my kids. I wanted them to understand who Christ was, and why He came to earth—not just as a baby, but as the God/man who eventually died for our sin.
You can’t find meaning in the superficial
As women, we desire to make our holidays meaningful. We know there is great eternal significance in the incarnation of Christ, and we long to celebrate that. We think we will accomplish this goal by decorating our homes with beautiful decorations and lights. And though these decorations may add sparkle and an air of something special, they do little to connect us to the eternal. And that’s what we’re longing for in our hearts—to be connected to the eternal.
In recent years I’ve had the opportunity to create the type of Christmas resources I wish I’d had as a young mom. Three of our Christmas products are called “Adorenaments®”—beautiful Christmas tree ornaments that tell the names of Christ, helping us adore Him at Christmas.
The first set focuses on “His Christmas Names”—Prince of Peace, Jesus, Mighty God, Emmanuel, Wonderful Counselor, Savior, and Christ the Lord.
The second set tells of “His Royal Names”—King of Kings, Prince of Princes, Lord of Lords, Lion of Judah, Son of David, King of Israel, and The Almighty.
And this year’s new set features “His Savior Names”—Anointed One, Chief Cornerstone, Great High Priest, Lamb of God, Mediator, Messiah, and Redeemer.
Each set comes with a small read-aloud book that helps moms and dads talk about the meaning of each name of Christ with their children. Read the stories while you’re hanging ornaments on the tree or as bedtime stories for the whole family.
The “best yes”
I am not blind to the irony here—encouraging parents to add these ornaments and the reading of a book to an already busy season! But here’s what I also know about many of you: On your Christmas to-do list, you’ve probably included some activities that you could drop … if you’re willing.
I know I was that way. For example, I wanted to take meaningful Christmas gifts to all my kids’ teachers. I wanted to give something to the mail carrier, to the piano teacher … the list went on and on. I was my own worst enemy—I had expectations for Christmas that were not realistic and were stealing time from what was most important to me.
My friend Lysa TerKeurst wrote a book titled, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, which has a lot of good things to say to anyone overwhelmed with Christmas activities and expectations. She encourages us to determine what is most important, what would please God the most. “What’s that soul thing for you, that God-honoring thing that keeps slipping away because there’s been no time to set aside and actually start?” she writes. “It’s time to set your soul free from being chained to an overwhelming schedule.”
At Christmas, that “soul thing” for many of us is connecting to the eternal, to God. And many of us need to make some difficult choices. If your top priority this Christmas is teaching your children about Christ, then you probably need to delete some items from your list of holiday activities. You may have to say no to some parties, or to baking every type of Christmas cookie from your family’s favorite recipes, or to copying every decorating idea you see on Pinterest.
In the long run, if you teach your kids about Christ at Christmas, you will have done what is most meaningful. Nobody will remember if you don’t get the cookies done. But they might remember what they heard about Jesus, and that’s worth more than anything you gave up.
Copyright © 2014 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Looking for help or inspiration this Christmas? FamilyLife offers several resources to help your family focus on Christ during your Christmas celebration. The Ever Thine Home® Christmas collection includes ornaments and other decorations help you honor Christ and proclaim your faith. The 12 Names of Christmas™ ornaments are designed to help you teach your children about Jesus is and why He came to live among us. And in When Christmas Came, Barbara Rainey reveals the substance of Christmas in poignant prose and vivid watercolors.