In a century where holidays are hijacked by outrageous spending and overpriced tradition expectations…. I just want to love my family. I began to notice where my Christmas to-do list no longer lined up with love. Time to change things up!
For Thanksgiving, that meant I learned to mosey. For this first week of December, it means I am making a few executive decisions about our expectations for the rest of this month. I hope this turning of tables leads to better awareness of Jesus in our midst as I learn to love sacrificially like He does.
Perhaps you need to take back your expectations for the holidays too! I often remind my kids that the parents are the boss of the kids and Jesus is the boss of Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes, we parents need to exercise a little executive power to reorient our homes in line with our King. Here are the ones that made a difference for us this first week of advent:
1. Bless with a Dress. I do a lot of outfit control for my 3 year old twins. Many a favorite tutu gets nixed in favor of practical pants. However, this week I decided to hand over the fashion reigns, for both my daughters outfit and mine. A mother-daughter tea party play-date is the perfect opportunity to let my daughter explore her taste in style, and affirm it by strutting through the day dressed by my preschooler. With no small amount of glee, Evi dug through my closet and unearthed the only “twirly” dress I own, much like the one she was wearing.
Soon we were a pair of twirly girls ready for the day. She loved it, I only felt marginally awkward. But I held my head high nonetheless. Interestingly, when my husband saw my out-of-the-box outfit, he was enamored. Thanks to a brave moment of saying yes to my daughter, the twirly dress will now be featured more often in the outfit shuffle. It isn’t so bad taking turns in the fashion department after all.
2. Trade Trendy for Timeless. On a last minute whim, I bought bright silver tinsel garland. For weeks, I’ve had my eye on a red buffalo plaid ribbon to wrap around our tree, but the kids are little, tinsel is shiny, and who cares. We bought tinsel.
I also bought batman Christmas wrapping paper. And Disney princess wrapping paper. I kissed goodbye my dreams of brown paper packages tied up with string…with a sprig of eucalyptus tucked in the bow, and calligraphy monographs hand painted on top (thank you Pinterest).
Instead, I will put a pin in these dreams and revisit them maybe when the kids turn 17. It’s going to be one well-pined for Scandinavian-style, minimalism Christmas. Of course by then, it will no longer be trendy. I guess love is the trend I should be setting in our home instead. Let the kids be kids, and enjoy it while it lasts, right? After all, those memories are the truly timeless decorations at Christmas.
3. Stymie Unnecessary Stress. Also a last minute executive decision, I postponed the introduction of our “Shepherd’s Treasure.” We received this adorable Elf on the Shelf alternative as a gift last Christmas from my lovely older sister. She has charming documentation of their shepherd’s enchanting antics in years past, making me really excited to jump in.
The book’s instructions say to start the 1st day of December, however I decided not to. For some reason, the last 3 days of November had me panicked in preparation for the calm time of advent. It seemed counter intuitive that I was getting stressed in preparation for rest. The word oxymoron kept coming to mind.
So I made the executive mama decision: a late start date for our Shepherd was not going to deprive our kids. In fact, this delay was a sacrificial love act. When I release myself from forced Christmas creativity for too many days in a row, I can give my family the greater gift of having a peaceful, present mama.
In the days the twins were still babies, a wise soul implored me to seriously rethink traditions while my kids are little. “Simplify them to start,” she said ,”because it is less stressful on everyone to add a new expectation down the road than to fail a tradition later because you were over-ambitious in the early years.”
I deeply appreciate the freedom I have discovered in practicing this stay-present principle. So we might bring our shepherd out 10 days before Christmas, or maybe 7. Whenever it happens, it will be just as whimsical and enchanting.
There you have it, a few ways I said yes to twirly dresses and sparkly trees and batman wrapping paper (and no to being stressed-out mommy) in order to love my kids BIG this holiday season.
These are all decisions that boss me right out of my comfort zone. Not surprisingly, embracing them has brought more freedom and joy for this season.
What executive decisions have you made to stay-present this holiday season?
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