It’s finally December and Christmas is rapidly approaching! Our Tommy Mommies are going to be sharing some of their favorite memories, traditions and ways they celebrate the season with you throughout this month, but I also wanted to share another reality so many of us face during the holidays.
While this is a favorite time of year for many families, it can also be a time filled with stress and choices.
It should go without saying that we live in a fallen world, but for some reason, when it comes to Christmas, many families expect perfection.
Perfect family pictures. Perfect turkey dinners. Perfect behavior. Perfect decorations. And most of all, perfect time together.
Unfortunately, that is not reality.
Especially for those of us who come from broken, divorced or divided families, simply trying to figure out where to celebrate on Christmas Day can be a challenge.
For my husband and I (both of whose parents are divorced), this caused a great deal of anxiety the first few years of marriage, especially since we had a child right away who happened to be the first grandchild for both sides! All we wanted was to wake up Christmas morning in our own home with our own tree while opening presents and watching the Disney parade; instead we found ourselves pulled in a million directions, having to navigate where to go, when, and for how long. The last year we played this game we voyaged to six houses in one day with two toddlers who never got naps.
Less than ideal, to say the least.
Even worse was that I didn’t feel like our efforts were being appreciated! Many of the extended family we visited insinuated that we didn’t stay long enough, eat enough, interact enough, etc. Seriously? How many buffets can you tackle in one day without a nap and still be expected to act perky?
Once we realized that the stress we thought we were internalizing was actually being transferred to our small children, we said enough is enough. What kind of model were we being our kids? Even more, how was this modeling the love of Jesus and gratefulness of the season for them?
That was when we stood firm and made Christmas morning sacred in our family. We get up, (get daddy his coffee), look in stockings, turn on the parade and put our hashbrown casserole in the oven for breakfast. We take our time and soak in the day.
What we’ve now done is extended the invitation for others to join us in our home Christmas morning. It’s not that we don’t want to see family, but we do want to establish our own traditions as the Cone family.
Now that we live away from most of our family, we’ve also learned the importance of chosen family: those friends that become like family to you. We are SO grateful for friends (and their families) who have invited us into their homes on holidays… or better yet, alternate days we choose to celebrate the holidays together!
We also have to remember the ultimate choice of Christmas – the choice that God made to send His son Jesus to earth as a human baby to live and eventually die for our sins.
So whether you’re choosing where to spend your holiday, what family to spend it with, who to invite to be a part of your family or how to celebrate Jesus in this of Advent, remember, it is a conscious choice you have to make.
However that looks and whatever that means for you and your kids, I encourage you to choose family this Christmas.
With a passion for teaching and mentoring others as her inspiration, Sami Cone began blogging in 2009 to encourage others to live their dream life and pursue their passions. A published author and seminar speaker, she draws on her experiences as a writer, editor, university professor, performer, professional athlete, and pageant winner to help women realize their full potential in life. Sami appears regularly on TV & Radio as a Frugal Expert and has been blogging for Tommy Nelson since 2010. Sami and her husband of seven years, Rick, thrive in Nashville with their two children.