Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Social Media Christmas: Burdens, Comparisons, and Exhaustion

Remember when the only Christmas decorations you saw were in magazines, department stores, and friends houses who invited you over for parties?

Remember when traditions were passed down through generations rather than over Pinterest and Instagram?

Remember the years before Elf on the Shelf?

Remember when Christmas cards were just that, actual cards? 

I do.

I have to admit, I miss those years. 

Becoming a parent has opened my eyes to all the, ahem, “opportunities” that can be a part of our Christmas celebrations.

Social media has let me know that Santa should be visited, the Polar Express must not be missed, a Christmas parade should be attended, Elf on the Shelf is a ridiculous amount of fun, and Advent is to be creatively celebrated with your children. 

It’s exhausting and overwhelming when I consider all of them.

I’ve seen about 3,253 Elf on the Shelf pictures, each more clever than the first.

There are “Kindness Elves,” doing good deeds daily for their postman, teachers,  third cousins, and the neighborhood cat.

The Polar Express was sold out before I knew tickets were on sale. 

There are many, many ways to do an Advent Calendar.  Each one is the best one, or so I’ve read. 

Christmas cards have already started arriving at my house. The smiling, adorable family photo cards are a mystery to me. How does one get every child to look at the camera and grin at the same time? My boys do a fabulous job of crying, looking confused, or just not looking during every photo op.  Oh, and I still haven’t sent my cards from last year.

Pinterest keeps showing me handmade Christmas wreaths, reindeer cookies, and twig tree ornaments that I should be making.   

I haven’t read a book or my bible in front of roaring fire and my Christmas tree while covered in a blanket.  Instagram has informed me that everyone else is doing that regularly.

According to facebook, 95% friends have finished their Christmas shopping.  All of it was done on Amazon.  I have not yet started.

To be completely honest, I struggle with all of this. It’s a personal problem, I realize, but I share it in case maybe someone out there feels the same way. 

I’ve considered getting off of social media, quarantining my family and emerging on January 2nd back into society.

That option is probably extreme and has the potential to also drive me to insanity.

I'm not at all against decorating or celebrating creatively. Christmas fun has begun in our house. We have hung the stockings and trimmed the tree. (Real Talk: I'm not against instagram. Tonight I posted a picture of my mantle on Instagram, asking for decorating opinions.) We are in the midst of establishing sweet traditions with our boys.  

For me and way my mind works, I just have to view every holiday decision in light of my motives. 

Am I decorating to make our home cozy and welcoming for our family or to be aesthetically pleasing in the pictures I post? 

Do I bake/make/create because that's what every "good mom" does or because it's what I believe is best for my boys? 

Do the Christmas traditions we are planning for the boys bring on stress and exhaustion or joy and life? 

These are the questions that I have to ask in order to refocus and realign myself.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t want to miss this month. I don’t want to lose sight of the hope in this holiday. 

We have two Nativity Sets in our home.  Brian brought this set home from Kenya a few years ago.  

A fellow adoptive friend sent us this Congolese nativity set as we were waiting on Tyson last year. 

They are sweet reminders of God’s promise of a Savior and His faithfulness in every piece of our lives.  While they are simply made and plain in appearance, I think they are the perfect antidote to the holiday madness that I can allow to overwhelm me. 

Christmas isn’t meant to be a burden.  It isn’t meant to choke us with consumerism and comparison.

I don’t want to be blinded by the lights and the glitter and miss the joy and hope.  I don't want to miss the Savior, the redemption, and the ultimate restoration because of His birth. 

Maybe some of you feel this way too. 

Let’s help hold each other accountable, not to doing or spending more, but to truly finding joy this December in the simple things that matter long after this month ends. 


  1. That Elf can be a tough one to keep up with! I can't imagine any mother I know creating and documenting Christmas traditions in order to keep up appearances. The thought of that truly saddens me. Whether you are a "keep it simple" or a "go all out" kinda mom, the connection with your family and your faith is truly all that matters. I love those nativity scenes. :)

  2. Great thoughts!! I can certainly relate over here! My 7 yr old came home last night telling me about something he had heard about at school called Elf on the Shelf- I was trying to act interested while thinking AHHHH-I thought I had successfully avoided that ! (: And then there is the massive Christmas with list coordinating for the grandmothers- so much work!! Love the nativities! We have one from Uganda, one from Et and then my very American Willow Tree one (: Enjoy this season with your little ones!

  3. Right there with you! I love your nativity scenes! Don't let the stress take out the meaning of Christmas! I hate commercials on the disney channel! My now 5 year old has just started telling me "I want...". I lovingly tell her we are very blessed.

  4. I love this post. I don't have kids yet, but I've definitely been thinking about how to do Christmas. Social Media does make it hard because you feel like you should be doing all these things. I want to have Christmas traditions so my future children grow up remembering what their family always does at Christmas. It doesn't have to be extravagant. While I was growing up, my family had a few things I always knew we were going to do. On the other hand, I want Christmas to be about enjoying time together as a family-not a burden. It's tough. I read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" today to my class and this post reminds me of that. Christmas is about more than material things. :)

  5. amen! I am right there with you... tormented between what I should do(in the worlds) eyes, by what I can do (the reality in my life), and what I want to do or rather what I don't want to do... I am tired of the commercialism and getting sucked into it... I am weak I admit it. Things are going to change this year out of necessity and reality- not sure what this Christmas will look like for us? TRUSTING GOD!

  6. twdrisko@gmail.comDecember 4, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    You are a amazing woman of God!! I remeber the simple Christmas the magic of decorating stockings ,singing carols in the neighborhood sending Christmas cards, waiting on Santa, writing out our Christmas list , making cookies, going to church all dressed up! Family, family ,family to me is one of the best gifts of Christmas. Leslie thank you for uncondtional love, loving the unloved. You and Brian are two great examples of what parents are suppose to be. Keep up the great work. Keep your children close nd the world second!!! With love Terry

  7. I do know what you mean. Every year I say I am going to do an advent celebration of some kind. I even made plans to do it this year. It is Dec. 5th and still have not done it. I just finally pulled out a bit of my Christmas decor yesterday. Still no tree. Still no cards. It is so easy to covet others gifts. The important thing is like you said "Make your own traditions and do what is right for your family" Elf on the shelf is not our thing but I delight in the creativity others have in doing it. Getting cards out on time is not my thing, but kudos to the people who thrive on getting them sent out early. I don't go for the perfect pictures...One year I duct taped my kids mouth and put them under a tree - BEST CHRISTMAS picture ever. They were giggling and had so much fun with it. Caption read: Rope..$15 - Duct Tape...$5 0 PEACE ON EARTH.. Priceless. :-P

    The less busy I am doing projects the more time I have to reflect on the true reason for the season.

  8. Thank you for this post. Evaluating our motives is so necessary because it is so easy to get distracted. I took a lot of heat this week when I posted my dislike of elf on the shelf posts on fb. ;)

  9. I LOVE this post! I enjoy seeing all the things people do, but it DOES wear on me, too. I can't do it all, and I always try (especially this year, since it seems overwhelmingly that I can't do much and there is SO MUCH I SHOULD DO (lol) to make sure that whatever I'm doing in the holidays is FUN for all of us, and not at all stressful. :) Hugs to you! AND are you adopting from Ind*a? I found you through Kristen's blog and we also are adopting from Ind*a, so if you are, hi! :)

  10. I always remind myself how Facebook began -- guys COMPARING girls to see which ones they wanted to date. It will never stray from its roots - it can't. But we can -- just have fun and ENJOY!

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