14 Dec 2015

The Way You Celebrate Christmas is the Right Way

There’s a lot happening these days.

And the more I see people around me do, the more I tend to want to hermit.

The more others produce, the less I feel motivated to start.

The only thing I’ve excelled at this season is how many Hallmark Christmas movies I’ve watched.

This weekend we had two basketball games and two Christmas concerts — Jackson made Zoe giggle through most of hers. And our washing machine hasn’t been working in two weeks. Today all I really want to do is wrap presents. Slowly. Using my Christmas puppies and kittens wrapping paper. 

My daughter fell asleep at seven last night while her brothers and I watched the season finale of the Great Food Truck race. I’m not even sure which season it was. All I know is that we’ve been rooting passionately for the Seoul Sausage guys and we were ecstatic when they won. By a margin of just $103. Unreal.

We sat on the sofa by the light of the Christmas tree and watched the final cook off and Zoe fell asleep on my lap while I slowly stroked her gorgeous hair back from her face. Over and over again I ran my fingers through her hair and it soothed me. We didn’t do an Advent reading all week but we talked a lot about what it means to be a minority because on our basketball team, at our school, in our church – in so many different ways in our community – we are.

So we had good talks. Hard talks. And often kids bickered but we did get around to finally re-assembling the basketball hoop that’s been in bits and parts since our move back in June. The weather hit the seventies on Saturday and the boys shot hoops and we ate too much take out and then watched the Great Food Truck race while Zoe fell asleep on my lap.

This is what the Christmas season looks like for us so far. We’re not doing a lot. And frankly I wish we were doing even less. I feel the weariness of the world and my own small family. So we crowd around on the sofa with our feet up and try not to drip ice cream on the couch and I try not to snap as we all gather around each other and rejoice in ways that don’t look the same as what might be happening online. And that’s OK.

The way your family rejoices, the way they find to ease their weary shoulders at the end of a long year, that’s the right way.

The outtakes are always more interesting than the Christmas card.

I love them. Every single, ridiculous face that annoyed me so much while the kids were making them. I scroll through them today and I fall a little bit more in love with each unique personality of my three tiny humans.

I know those faces and what those expressions mean. I can read them like a storybook and still I’m surprised that they’re mine.

And in the evenings I survey the floor in my boys’ bedroom and don’t even have the heart to make them clean up the clothes strewn on just about every surface. Because I know they’re weary too. My daughter wants me to climb into bed with her these evenings and she wraps her tiny arms around my head and neck and cradles me close, promising to always love me.

We lie by the light of her Hello Kitty twinkle lights and I receive the love of a nearly five year old. It’s weight is all the gold and myrrh and frankincense treasure in the world to me. And even as I lie there receiving the unspeakable gift of unconditional love I feel my tired and whiney spirit that still wishes for more time alone, more sleep, more of me. And I know that’s part of being human and a mother and part of why it’s so remarkable that Jesus came to love me and wrap His arms around me – all of me. Not just the nice parts. The selfish parts too. The parts He’s gently, tenderly rubbing away over years of parenting.

I don’t need to perform for Him. I just need to receive.

I forget that. Especially on the nights I’m snapping at my kids for how they’re too loud or too messy or too dirty from all that basketball and how they’re now traipsing it through my house. There are no silent nights here. But these nights on the sofa or out back in the driveway under a basketball hoop or fighting over who gets to use the puppy Christmas wrapping paper are ours. They’re our own story and it’s a good one, even when it’s not a perfect one.

I hope you know that yours is too.



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I love this! I have always felt such pressure to do everything during advent because I don’t want to miss anything, but this year we too have been doing more of what you are doing and it has been relaxing and spontaneous instead of rigid. We tried unwrapping the greatest gift, but I think the kids are just too young. I think it is beautiful but they can’t sit still! Maybe next year! Thanks for making it ok for advent not to feel like a marathon.

  2. 3

    Oh, mama. I have a similar post started, though I think I like yours more. :)
    From one Advent slacker to another, it’s all going to be alright

  3. 5

    We are a family in full-time missionary family with an evangelism ministry in Puerto Rico (www.rameministries.org) with two children ages 2 and 4, so here’s a good one: We are doing homeschooling curriculum which, of course, works in the holidays throughout the school year. We are so behind on the curriculum that we are on the “Halloween” week! We don’t celebrate Halloween, but I just thought it was hilarious that we are about to celebrating Christmas and our curriculum is about to celebrate Halloween. So yeah, ain’t no Advent up in here! I’ve decided that on Christmas Eve, since we have no family on the island and we celebrate Christmas our own way, we will make cookies with boys and make a mess of the kitchen and let them have some Christmas fun that way. They know the Christmas story straight from God’s Word. The know Jesus had to sleep in a manger, which is a place where animals eat from. They know He is their Savior and that He died on a cross for them. I’d say for 2 and 4, that’s not too bad… but daily advent activities besides reading the story semi-daily from the Word? Ninguno. (That’s Spanish for ‘none.’)

  4. 6

    Oh my stars… how I had a lump in my throat and my hands suddenly felt empty as I read of how you stroked Zoe’s hair as she fell asleep… but then you had to go and talk about that weighty, priceless five year old love and Gah! I literally can’t even… but I can’t tell you how right this is – this slowing to spend the days exactly how they unfold and drinking it in and letting Christmas come just like that…

    We are in the in between years… the empty nester years before grands make a grand entrance (and oh how we are happy to wait… we do long to live those days yet again… fingers running through hair at the temple and all the way back… slowly… a different sort of laying on of hands and oh my what those kinds of prayers accomplish! xoxo


  1. […] The Way You Celebrate Christmas is the Right Way | Lisa-Jo Baker […]

  2. […] One of the things I wanted to do this Christmas season was to rest and reflect. I wanted to not make it about “to-do’s” and get overwhelmed with advent calendars and all of the possible – good surrounding the season. I love this article by Lisa-Jo Baker on how to enjoy the holiday season with little ones: The Way You Celebrate Christmas is the Right Way. […]

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