But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19
This year, I almost missed Christmas. Almost.
I almost let all the pressure surrounding the celebrating of the holiday overshadow the real reason and task of Christmas.
It all began on Wednesday the 22nd when I made a major mistake in each of the kid's Christmas pajamas. I didn't realize what I had done until I finished the waistband on the last of the three pairs of pants. And then came the thought that there was no way I could fix the major error and also finish their pajamas in time for Christmas Eve.
Previously, we had filled the week with friends and visits and fun, so the house was a mess and we hadn't gotten anything done.
The 23rd, we had Christmas with Eric's family. I was lucky enough to make the meal, but work and an unexpected recipe change meant just a little bit more stress trying to accomplish everything.
On Christmas Eve, I spent the morning running around doing a few last minute things. I was totally wound up. So was Eric. The kids were wired and we had too many things to do in too little time. There just wasn't enough time to finish everything that "needed" to be done. Finally at home, I sat by my sewing machine, sewing furiously, trying to finish pajama shirts: my machine was jamming, seams were super crooked and there was supportive stitching showing through and making my errors obvious to my eye. I also was thinking about all the food that I had to make: Treats for Jesus' birthday party, yummy food for Christmas Eve dinner, bread for Christmas breakfast. And then there were presents to wrap, Christmas cards to deliver to my neighbors, the house to clean and . . . .
I think you get the picture. I was completely stressed out.
Suddenly, it hit me. I was totally doing exactly what I didn't want to do with Christmas. I was making all the trappings of the holiday outweigh the weight of the meaning of Christmas. The stuff was more important than the people, than the baby.
And God sent some wonderful, gentle, loving reminders, in the forms of my children to help me remember (again) why God sent his son for us.
I managed to finish (with knowledge that I would later fix a major error) two full pairs of pajamas. And the girls danced around the house wearing them.
All three understand why Jesus came to be born on this earth: that our king had to become a baby to grow up and save us from our sins. To hear them declare their love for Christ moved me in a way that is difficult to describe.
At Jesus' birthday party (This year, He was gracious enough to allow gluten free brownies which we all said were really, really good), OG said probably the cutest thing I have ever heard. "Mommy, Jesus is in my heart, right?" "Yep, OG, he is in your heart." "Jesus is in my heart, so he can't see the brownies right?" During our popcorn prayer, their prayers were simple and moving.
Christmas morning was a great time with our family. The kids were excited to have us open the gifts they gave us, they were patient while waiting for their turn. And they all shared their new stuff.
Then at church, our family lit the Advent candles. Each member had a role: Eric (and Yoli, our adopted member of the family) read, the girls and I lit the candles, and J said the prayer. His confidence and the strength of the words he prayed was beautiful. I was one proud mama, not only for how he acted on stage, but for what he said with such strength.
And I ended the holiday with this thought, over and over:
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
And from the real meaning of Christmas, this is the desired outcome. And it gives me great hope and great joy.