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 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.