Without a doubt, Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s also one of the busiest. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be fun, but it can also be exhausting. This year has been particularly trying for me personally with two toddlers running around the house. Surviving Christmas has become my main priority this holiday season!
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I love seeing my girls so excited for Christmas. For my oldest, this is the first holiday season where she actually understands what is going on around her. She’s is enjoying all the details of decorating the tree, wrapping presents, looking at Christmas lights, etc. For my youngest, however, things have been a bit more difficult. She has discovered a love for breaking glass ornaments, unwrapping gifts, and crying loudly in her car seat as we try to take her older sister out to see the lights. (She normally loves car rides.)
With all that being said, I basically have two choices: be miserable and completely stressed out or I can choose to enjoy this holiday season for what it is.
As difficult as it is chasing after a one-year-old with a half-opened gift in her hand, I know that one day I will look back at this time and laugh. As she gets older, I will tell her about the time she nearly ate a glass Christmas tree ornament (yes that actually almost happened…) I know that when my girls are grown, I will look back at my nearly bare Christmas tree with fondness. My children are only this age for so long, so I can get frustrated or I can choose to laugh and enjoy them in all of their holiday spirit.
I’m reminded of a story in the gospel of Luke:
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)
I tend to behave like Martha during busy and stressful times. I obsess over details, overwork myself, and resent those around me who don’t seem as stressed out as I am. But I really want things to be different this Christmas.
I have found that when I get stressed out, I tend to stress out those around me as well. In the Luke passage, Martha wanted Jesus to make Mary help her with her work, but Mary was the one who had it right. Martha’s mistake wasn’t the fact that she was preparing dinner. It was the fact that she was distracted by it. In other words, she was letting it stress her out. Mary, however, had her focus on Jesus. And Martha would have been taking that away from her if she had succeeded in sharing her work stress.
In the same way, I know that when I get stressed, I tend to want to share my stress with my entire family. So I have a proposal for you: let’s make an effort to be like Mary this holiday season. Yes, there is work to be done; but we can choose to keep our focus where it really matters. We can choose to not let things bother us when they don’t go exactly as planned.
If we really believe that Jesus is the “reason for the season,” then we need to practice what we preach. We can enjoy the Christmas trees, the lights, and the festivities; but in the end, Jesus is the only thing that matters. I want my daughters to grow up knowing this truth, and I can choose to be an example to them this holiday season.
Will you join me in being more like Mary this holiday season?
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.