Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Good Enough Christmas

Christmas wouldn’t be the same for me if it weren’t for my kids.  I know it sounds obvious, but what I mean by it might not be.  A couple of days ago, a friend was sharing how exhausted she feels with everything going on this time of year, and since she knew church life is ramped up in the weeks leading up to Christmas as well, she asked, “Do you even like this time of year?"

“It'd be easy not to,” I told her.  “But that’s why I am so grateful for Esme and Reid.” 
In fact, shortly after Thanksgiving, I wasn’t really looking forward to Christmas at all.  I was feeling overwhelmed by all the extra things that needed to get done at church in addition to what needed to be done to get ready for Christmas as a family.  I felt drained and lethargic.

But then I caught myself and realized that I didn’t want to give my kids that impression of Christmas.  I didn’t want to get in the way of the sheer delight and fascination they have for the lights, Red, our Elf on a Shelf, putting up Christmas decorations and everything else in between.  I asked God to restore my joy, and though all my prayers aren’t answered so tangibly, God did exactly that.

It helped being reminded of something a wise person with me shared several years ago.  I was seeing a counselor to help me through some stressful times, and we were talking about self-care.  She introduced me to the idea of the “Good Enough List,” which is narrowed down from my ideal to-do list.  For instance, at the end of the day, I might like for all the laundry to be folded and the dishes to be done and the toys to be picked up in order to feel like I can relax.

But realistically, there’s no time left to relax if I have to get all those things done first.  So my “good enough list” includes getting the dishes done but being okay with everything else left undone.  It’s a good reminder of a wall art we have, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”

With my good enough list mentality in mind, I decided to make some changes in my outlook and how I viewed these weeks before Christmas.  For starters, I decided to embrace the sense of wonder and delight of my kids as I went about Christmas preparations rather than viewing it as work.  Yes, it is fun to put ornaments on the tree!  And bake cookies, and put out new decorations!  I needed to be reminded of that.  It’s just one more reason I am so blessed to get to be the mom of these two little ones!

I also started to focus more on who I could pray for rather than the things in my life that aren’t going as smoothly as I’d like.  It’s a small thing, but it works wonders when it comes to not feeling irritated, annoyed, and frustrated.  Similarly, I started turning off the news and singing along to Christmas music in its place.  I believe it is good to be well-informed, but listening to one report after another of people fighting other people or throwing accusations around at “the other” can wear on you.

And rather than stress about money, I made a conscious choice to focus on the joy of giving instead.  I love to give, and yet there is something about this time of year that adds so much pressure to the whole idea of giving.  Have you forgotten anyone?  Did you get them the perfect thing?  Did you get the best price for it?  Aye de mi!  (That’s a Spanish term I learned in middle school that I just love.  It means something like, “Whatever shall I do?!)  It’s enough to make anyone—or at least, just me—feel stressed and worn out.

And you know what?  It’s working!  It’s such a relief to remember that nothing has to be perfect.  I couldn’t be more thankful for my change in perspective.  (I’m pretty sure my family is benefiting too.)

It goes without saying that Esme and Reid have helped in this matter a great deal.  The other day I suggested we bring over our presents to a few of our friends, and Esme asked if she could bring the bag up to their doors by herself.  She doesn’t always jump on the idea of doing things alone, so this was a big step.  And seeing her have so much fun bringing the bag up and ring the doorbell, reminded me what giving is all about.  It truly is more blessed to give than to receive, and I’m so glad my kids are picking up on that truth.

It’s all these things combined that have allowed me to enjoy the last couple of weeks, as well as look forward to the ones to come.  Thanks be to God!  Looking forward to what’s to come, after all, is what Advent and Christmas are all about.

1 comment:

  1. The Good Enough List. That is brilliant! I love it. It's sort of like the Got Done list, but a little more intentional, I think. So good.

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