My frustration with the stress of Christmas was building each year. Why must this be so hectic? Why is my schedule so packed? Why do I feel a small sense of relief when the holidays are over? Relief over the end of the celebration of Christ’s birth. Oh, what a terrible thought. That is where my frustration came in.
Two Christmases ago, I was expecting our second child weeks before Christmas. I combined the thoughts of the exhaustion of life with a newborn and frustration of the busy holiday season with the precious moments of snuggling a newborn and quiet moments celebrating the birth of our Savior. Which direction did I want to go? Did I want to fill my already exhausted state of life with distracting to-dos? Did I want to wear myself down so when I showed up to worship the baby Jesus on Christmas I would be too tired to think? Too tired to worship the Savior?
I did a small amount of Christmas shopping before our baby girl arrived, but then gave myself complete freedom to enjoy the quiet of the season. I could enjoy snuggling my little one without having a long shopping list clutter my mind. I could give myself freedom from all the “must-do” activities. I could ignore the hustle and bustle of the season. I could show up at church to celebrate the Advent season and Christmas and be awake enough contemplate the joy of the birth of our Savior. The wonder of our God coming to earth as baby Jesus.
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. – Luke 2:14
That Christmas I withdrew from the worldly expectations. I withdrew from the shopping malls and from the pressure of holiday festivities. I retreated from what the world would say is a festive celebration and instead focused on the quiet of the season. Yes, I was tired from being up at night with a newborn, but getting rid of the man-made pressure of the season gave way to a peaceful celebration of the newborn King.
This mindset is continuing each year. I strive to reduce the holiday stress. I try to plan ahead and keep realistic expectations. I do not strive to do it all, as I know that the perfection would take me away from the reason of the season. I want meaning, not perfection, in my Christmas.
What joy we have in worshipping the newborn babe! What peace we have knowing that our Savior was sent to save us from death and sin!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6