Christmas morning dawned bright- and for all intents and purposes, it seemed a perfect, idyllic, postcard-worthy holiday. Still in our pajamas, my three sisters and I hovered around the tree that had been ringed with presents in colorful wrapping just overnight.
Even as a newly-thirteen-year-old, I could appreciate the beauty of the day, despite the fact that I sort of thought I was too old to show it.
There was just one problem, though; the anticipation, the wonder, the surprise... was gone.
A few weeks (or maybe even more than a month) before Christmas, my well-meaning and probably very over-worked mother had left a small note on the counter.
It wasn't a risky move- the chances of any of the four of us helping to clear off that small blue corner of the counter were pretty slim- but for whatever reason, I found that note, and almost before I realized what it was, I read the whole thing.
On that small scrap of paper, my mom had written out her Christmas shopping list- and all the gifts she'd lovingly planned for each of us was marked down next to our names.
When Christmas morning finally dawned, there were no surprises for me under that tree. I knew exactly what I would unwrap... and for that matter, I knew what my sisters would be getting, too. And even though it seemed to be the perfect Christmas, my heart was a little sad. The wonder was gone.
As I've gotten older, I feel like some of the wonder has been sapped from Christmas- much the same as I felt back then.
I'm wiser, more jaded, I guess, and honestly, I've seen a lot of Christmases come and go that never quite reached my heart.
As an adult, Christmas isn't filled with magic anymore. It's full of busyness, of things I should be doing, traditions I want to start but haven't found time to work on. There are disappointments, expectations, sometimes even family conflict.
I've lived enough of them to know what Christmas has in store for me. I know what I'll be unwrapping under that tree, and it's not always all that merry or bright.
It's not the way it has to be, though.
There's hope for all of us Scrooges out there who bah-humbug and believe that Christmas is only magical for children and people who somehow have escaped responsibility and reality.
We can reclaim Christmas.
But how do we do it? I mean, we've got cards to get out, a tree to decorate, bickering children (or a hole in our hearts because we have no children at all). There's cookies to bake and parties to attend and shopping to do! How can we carve out time to find the magic again?
1) Say No.
Yeah, this is a hard one for me. But really and truly, beating ourselves into the ground with activity after activity, plan after plan, commitment after.. you get it... puts the pressure on this season. And it's so easy to crumble under all that pressure.
We snap at our spouses because why-don't-you-ever-do-anything-around-the-house-look-at-this -MESS! (or is that only me?). We rush around and try to do all the things without really taking time to notice what we're doing or why.
Simplify. Say no to that party or that project or that committee, for once. Have a weekend where you sit on your couch and drink cocoa, and be okay with being quiet.
2) Say Yes.
Say yes to playing in the snow. Say yes to a slightly later bedtime so you can finish watching "It's A Wonderful Life." Say yes to counting blessings and finding small bits of joy.
We need room in our schedules (by saying no to all that pressure) to be spontaneous and have some fun this holiday season. Sucking the life out of every moment by forcing it into a to-do-list leaves us no room (or energy!) to really enjoy the moments we have.
3) Be Intentional.
Somehow, the actual miracle of Christmas is lost on me sometimes. I've heard the story so many times, known the truth in my heart for so long, that the incarnation of Christ seems nearly ho-hum. It take it for granted.
Part of giving yourself time and space this season is so that you can fill yourself and your family up with the true meaning of Christmas- to celebrate the incredible gift of Christ's birth.
Maybe you try to take some time every day to read a part of the Christmas story or children's book (I recommend this one)- or you find an Advent devotional for yourself to read with a cup of joe in the mornings. There are lots of online resources, too, like, this year, the IF:Equip website will be putting out a series of Advent devotions for ladies.
Whatever you decide to do, make it a time of intentional worship and focus on the true wonder of the season- that God came to Earth to be with us!
No matter why you've lost the wonder- whether you found the Christmas list, you've been hurt or disappointed, or you simply have found yourself too buried in busyness to look around you- there is a way to reclaim the season.
This post is part of a Blog Tour hosted by Blogs by Christian Women.
This post is also linked up and also been featured--
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.