Is This Really Christmas?

Each year since becoming a mother, I have vowed to do a better job managing my holiday stress. I say, "Next year I will be more organized, I will shop earlier, I will give more and spend less, and I will not let the little things get to me." But with each passing year (and each additional child), I just get worse. Somewhere amongst the duties of a growing family, school parties and Christmas programs, shopping and decorating...I get lost. Is this really how it is supposed to be? Most moms are frazzled enough with the normal responsibilities of life. To add the Christmas "to-do" list can send many dangerously close to the edge. I really do make some attempt to maintain perspective. However, there are all these things that must be done and people who are waiting (and expecting) for me to do them. What is an over-whelmed mom to do?

This year, I just feel over it. I had two kids out shopping in the rain last week and I almost got run over three times by people not wanting to stop to let us cross the parking lot at Target. The atmosphere is chaotic. I hear there is a recession, but one would never know it if they spent last Saturday at the mall. How did we get here?

I want Christmas to be special to my kids for the right reasons. We light Advent candles. We talk about Jesus' birth. We buy presents for needy families. Santa is not a huge figure in our house. But still, I am not content with the message we will be sending them this year. As our kids get older, we can see them grow more enticed by the hype. But the stuff is never enough. Each year, people buy, spend and charge...but it is never enough and it will never fill the void. My dear friend Shea lost her mom last week and her grief is great. She is hurting; there are so many who are hurting. I'm not completely sure how to put words to my heart right now. But where we have arrived does not feel like the right place. How do we balance it all, maintain perspective and still give our families a special season full of tradition and memories? I read a wonderful devotional today and I will close with that, because Joni Eareckson Tada says it so well and so much better than I ever could:

“On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world. Every Christmas is still ‘a turning of the page’ until Jesus returns. Every December 25 marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to . . . home. When we realize that Jesus is the answer to our deepest longing, even Christmas longings, each Advent brings us closer to his glorious return to earth. When we see him as he is, King of kings and Lord of lords, that will be ‘Christmas’ indeed!”
- Joni Eareckson Tada, “A Christmas Longing” in Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus ed. by Nancy Guthrie (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 137.

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