Before I had kids I loved Christmas. Twinkle lights were a part of my everyday decor. I played Christmas music way too early. I love advent readings in church. Seeing friends who are too busy the other 11 months of the year. Christmas plays- I acted in them. Christmas banquets- I served them. Presents- oh how I love to search for just the right one and wrap it up like Martha Stewart and then leave it on a doorstep to be enjoyed a la surprise.
Before I had kids I loved to enjoy all things Christmas.
Now that I have kids I am becoming more and more Scrooge each year. It’s not because it’s too commercialized. I mean life is commercialized and you choose how much you want to give in to that. It’s not because it’s such a busy time. All the activities shut down for the month of December, if anything we have more free time. It’s not because the christmas crafts and baking are messy, because they were just as messy pre-kids. It’s not because of all the “I want” either. Let’s face it kids are just as greedy in May as they are in December.
I do not like Christmas anymore because of the guilt.
You know what I’m talking about, maybe you even heaped some on this year, what with your “Keep CHRIST in Christmas” bumper sticker. Or when you shared this Ikea commercial on your Facebook page. When you made sure to put the right emPHASis on the right syllAble every time you said “Merry Christmas.”
Or maybe you’re drowning in a sea of it. Buy presents for my kids? But they aren’t aware of how selfish they are, why they haven’t offered to give last year’s toys away. Prepare a Christmas feast? But there are people starving, and I’m sure I did not give enough to the local Food Bank. Bake Cookies? Decorate the House? But what about all the people who don’t know the reason for the season, I haven’t logged nearly enough soap box hours. Enjoy the company of family and friends? But what about those dealing with loss and grief, surely I should not be happy until I bring home a military personnel. Memorize Christmas carols or words for a play? But we rushed through our advent verses and the kids haven’t memorized even one of those. Heck they still think Jesus’ daddy’s name is Santa!
If you’re a parent trying to raise up kids in the Christian Faith, then you, like me, may have a stocking full of guilt hanging on your mantle.
This has happened to me every year since I became a parent and I’m a bit tired of it. But 2014 has been a year of consciously shifting my perspective and at the 11th hour I’ve begun to experience another shift.
It happened with one of those pictures on Facebook. It was a manger and a star and a baby. But this time it read: “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.” And I began to realize some things.
I do not need to wonder if I’m putting the CHRIST in Christmas because having Christ in the life of our family is not a seasonal thing. We talk to Him and about Him every day. He is not the centre of our celebration, He is the centre of our life.
I do not need to feel guilty for the amount of charity or service I have given this holiday season because we give and serve to the best of our ability all year long. The Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto is our cause of choice and we support them 12 months of the year. We build up the body with service all year long.
I do not need to feel guilty about the amount or quality of our educational experience because no matter how much we talk at our kids about our faith, it is the Holy Spirit who brings them understanding and zeal. Knowledge about our faith is not a December campaign, it’s part of our everyday.
And I would hazard a guess that if you are a Christian parent, the same is true for you.
The thing about that simple statement, “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday” started a shift in my perspective because I can relate to that. I have 5 kids and if you have spent any time on this blog you know we. like. to. party.
But the birthday of my child is not the only day I pay attention to them. It’s not the only time I put them above everything else. It’s not the only time I tell them I love them or do something to make them feel special. But you know what a birthday is? It’s MAS. (Now I know it’s spelt MAS and what I mean is MÁS, but allow me some creative license if you will.)
When I am preparing for a birthday party we make a guest list. At our house we invite everyone of the same gender in our class at school and our besties from Church. Then we think about loot bags, what we’re going to give to people who come to say “thanks for celebrating me”. We list the food and plan activities. At our house we do this way in advance so that we can hunt for bargains or have time for DIYs done right. We choose a theme and we decorate accordingly. We even do frivolous things like helium balloons. We talk about it for months, not constantly but when we’re bored party planning is one way we fill our time. I search Pinterest for all the perfect things. We all pitch in and for one day we go MÁS for someone. We do it simply because we enjoy it.
Now it’s the 11th hour and I am not crazy enough to run myself into the ground and bankruptcy pulling off an incredible birthday for Jesus this year. I am fine with the fact that the only Christmas decoration I put up was a ceramic Christmas tree of my late Nana’s that my Grandpa brought me (the pic at the top, ain’t it swell). I will try and clean up the living room enough that we have space to open presents. Some of our traditions have slipped this year, and some were done while I totally faked the Spirit of the Season, but I don’t think the kids have a clue.
Moving forward Christmas is going to be less about guilt for me.
I won’t let guilt keep me from creating atmosphere in my home.
I won’t let guilt keep me from giving my kids, (and the Hubster) good gifts.
I won’t let guilt keep me from enjoying the bounty on my table.
I am blessed beyond what I deserve every day of my life and I’ve begun to see that in the same way that one should not only celebrate that fact on Thanksgiving, one should not be guilted out of celebrating it at Christmas.
From now on I’m going to put the CHRISTMAS in Christmas, and if you want to, you can do it too. No one’s going to make you feel guilty for it here.