Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Keeping the Christmas Spirit

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Do you remember Christmas as a child? Remember how much you loved the whole season? What's not to love? Parties, great food, time off of school, novel songs, and the anticipation of looking forward to presents.

As we become grown-ups, the Christmas season takes on a different form. It is kind of like the difference between having a puppy as a child and having a puppy as an adult. As a child, even if you are "in charge" of the puppy, the reality is the bulk of the responsibility is on an adult in the home. You might play with it sometimes and you might feed it daily, but you aren't potty training, you aren't puppy-proofing, and you aren't dealing with the vet every few weeks.

As an adult, the reality of what the Christmas season is about is as stark as that first time getting a puppy as an adult. You have to decide where to go when--you are juggling the parties and the family gatherings. You are doing the shopping and wrapping for the most part. You are trying to establish good traditions that are meaningful. You are probably trying to make sure your child understands the reason for the season--which is very important but also takes forethought, effort, and time.

All summed up, Christmas is a lot more work as an adult than it was as a kid! I recently read a talk by Dieter F. Uctdorf (can you tell I really relate to his talks? I am often quoting him). He starts by talking about the Grinch. He says:
"Perhaps the Grinch’s story is so memorable because, if we are honest, we may be able to relate to him. Who among us has not felt concern over the commercialization and even greed of the Christmas season? Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed by the packed calendars, the stress of finding gifts, the pressure of planning meals and events? In fact, psychologists tell us that during this season of cheer and goodwill, many feel sorrow and depression."
We know what the Christmas season ought to be—we know it should be a time of reflection on the birth of the Savior, a time of celebration and of generosity. But sometimes our focus is so much on the things that annoy and overwhelm us that we can almost hear ourselves say in unison with the Grinch: “Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! . . . But HOW? 

So the question becomes how do we, as adults, take control of the Christmas season and keep the spirit of Christmas with us. Most of us are pretty new to this. We have spent most of our lives to this point just enjoying Christmas. So how do we take on the extra responsibilities and still enjoy the purpose of Christmas?

Advent is a great tradition that keeps you focused on Christ each day. There are so many ideas on Pinterest and many great books, too. 

Read Christmas Stories
There are many Christmas stories and scriptures we can read to keep the Christmas spirit in mind. A Christmas Carol is a good one, as is of course the classic found in Luke.

Prepare Early
I really like to be done with the bulk of my work before December 1 so I can not turn into "crazy-mom-with-a-to-do-list." I still have things after December 1, but I have most done before then so I can just enjoy my family and enjoy Christmas.

Cut Back if Needed
We need to be able to enjoy this season. We need to have time to ponder on the meaning of the season. We need to have time to spend with our loved ones. We need to have time to read inspirational scripture and stories that remind us of the reason for the season. 
 If we notice that planning for parties and scrambling for presents begin to detract from the peaceable message of Jesus Christ and distance us from the gospel He preached, let us take a step back, slow down a little, and reconsider what matters most.
You don't have to go to every party and you don't have to go overboard on any one tradition. Your child wants time with you more than anything else you can concoct in your mind.

Rejoice in the Savior
We celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Creator, our Messiah. We rejoice that the King of kings came to earth, was born in a manger, and lived a perfect life. When Jesus was born, the joy in heaven was so great it could not be contained, and angelic hosts parted the veil, proclaiming unto shepherds “good tidings of great joy, . . . praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Be Optimistic
Our attitude affects everything and everyone around us. 
If we look for what is wrong with the Christmas season, we can surely find it. Like the Grinch, we can grumble and complain, becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Nevertheless, if we look for the good, we can see this time of year with new eyes—perhaps even with the eyes of a child.
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Carissa said...

I would love to start a christmas book collection for our family. And I agree, it seems a bit challenging to find that balance of celebrate ping and enjoying the holidays, but doing so in a way that is meaningful and not stressful. Great post.

marci said...

I am collecting Christmas books too. I enjoy the hustle and bustle of this season. This might be because the grandparents on both sides do most of the holiday cooking and hosting. It leaves us free to enjoy the season with the kids.

~Nikole~ said...

We don't have any Christmas advent traditions, but I would love to start one!

Landonsmommy said...

We make gifts to give to family members and give the money we woul have spent in presents to an organization that builds wells in Africa.

Valerie Plowman said...

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments!

Landonsmommy that is a great idea!

Ella Rich said...

Great share. Keep up doing that and more and more guys will pay attention to your blog.It's just what I was searching for. I am always interested in this subject. Will bookmark it and Happy Christmas.


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