Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting in the Christmas Spirit... Finally!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light.
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.

- Hugh Martin

Last year, I had such a tough time getting in the holiday spirit. There were dozens of things tugging at me constantly, keeping me so busy that I felt like I was playing catch-up throughout the month of December.

I called my sister in New Hampshire. (She is my lifeguard whenever I get swamped by motherhood.)

I confessed that I was having trouble really "feeling" the Christmas spirit for the first time I could remember. She understood, to say the least.

My sister's son, my beautiful nephew, passed away almost three years ago. So, for her, the holidays have become a time for reflection and tenderness and quiet with her family rather than a blaring extravaganza of Christmas trappings.

With characteristic selflessness and practicality, she gave me some insight.

"What is getting in the way for you?"

Feeling ashamed at burdening her with my problem, I talked about how stressed I felt and started to list all the things I needed to do -- the baking, the cards, the events, the obligations. She gently informed me that those things had nothing to do with Christmas.

"Don't do them," I heard her say. "What?" I replied.

Don't do them.

Sometimes as a mom, I feel like I'm at my most successful when I'm busy. I justify staying home by having that conversation with my husband that starts with him asking, "so what did you do today?" I always want to have something big to say in response. It's usually a litany.

But, last year, in that small conversation, my sister pointed out so clearly that the business of the season, the thousands of tiny things I felt I needed to do to make my family's Christmas happen, were actually taking me farther and farther away from understanding what Christmas itself is all about.

I have tried to take her words to heart. I have simplified this year. It hasn't been easy.

But is has made a difference.

This year, my husband and I have done more together, with less rush than before. We are doing less shopping for gifts but more giving -- especially to those who really need it. We are spending more time talking about the true meaning of Christmas. We are laughing more, playing more with the children, singing more, saying more thank-yous, praying more. We are able to be more gentle to each other and more flexible with the schedule.

I am so grateful for the change.

So, this year, Christmas has become more than the decorations and goodies and wrapped boxes. Something has opened my eyes and heart to the joy of the season in a different way.

And so I need to say 'Thank you' to my beautiful, thoughtful sister who was kind enough to share her hard-fought wisdom with me when I really needed it.

I don't know how to show you how grateful I am, or how much I love you.

So, maybe I'll just say that I am so glad that God gave you to me to be my sister. It was undoubtedly one of the best presents I've ever been given.

- Midwest Mom


  1. I can almost feel the happiness it gave you just by reading it. How fantastic!

  2. Simplifying is also the plan in our household this holiday season. Relatives are visiting, and for the first time, we agreed not to buy a bunch of things for each other. Instead, we’re going to spend more time playing board games, card games, watching movies and laughing at old family pictures. . .

  3. It is not to say that I don't enjoy your advice or idea blogs but it is also a treat to read blogs such as this one get to know bits about the mother behind the great advice. I like that term 'lifeguard' to describe your sister. I bet that is a gift to her in itself.

    I bet this will be one your best holidays yet without stressing over the material stuff.


  4. I'm glad you have found a balance - I am still working on that over hear. I appreciate the advise and guidance - I need to slow down, that is for sure!

    Take care - Kellan

  5. Wonderful. Simplifying is one of those funny things that seems so hard to do because most of us just aren't use to it! But it's so rewarding when we're able. And what a blessing your sister is to you.

  6. Pentad, Thanks. You're right.

    Anthony, we love board games. What a great way to spend time as a family. Good plan!

    Laurie, Thanks. :) She did like it. I got a phone call about a half hour after I posted it. :)

    Kellan, You already do so much, honey. Your family is blessed to have you. Balance is tough, but I'm working on it.

    Jamie, Thanks for visiting! You're right. Simplifying seems like such a no-brainer after you do it. I guess it's just a matter of focusing on what's really important and not getting distracted by everything else!

    Thanks for the great comments, everyone! -MM


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