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