Freely give. With the high feast of Christmas just around the corner, I thought I would write a little “heads up” to all of us women who are working so hard to make it a glorious celebration. We have shopped for the gifts. We’ve wrapped them all (or we will soon). We’ve put time, effort, thought, money, and energy into this thing called Christmas, and we are starting to get tired now, and we haven’t even started making the pies. And, let me tell you, if you are tired, you become an easy target for stumbling. So here are my tips for staying cheerful and joyful in the midst of many duties and much serving at Christmas.
Get your rest! You mothers of young ones especially. Put your feet up and count your blessings. Catch a few z’s when you can. That last push can really be exhausting as well as exhilarating, so watch yourself. If you get too worn out or too excited, you may come crashing down with a thud. So keep your eye on the ball. Decide which things are really important and stick to that. Listen to your husband and don’t brush him off when he suggests you not try to finish sewing the last three nightgowns by pulling an all-nighter. He knows you. Sometimes these projects are more about our own pride than about those who will receive them.
I know this may sound silly, but stay hydrated. Don’t be rushing around so much that you are living on coffee and fudge for the last few days before Christmas. Eat right. You will feel better if you do. And save the fudge for an after-dinner treat. You’ll enjoy it much more and you’ll feel lots better. Remember you are just flesh and blood, not superhuman. Pay attention to how you’re doing physically.
Take heed to your soul. If we set a glorious table with glistening china and all the trimmings, but have not love, and snap at the kids, we might as well serve up tater-tot casserole on paper plates. Remember our good friend Martha who was distracted with much serving, and don’t be annoyed with the Marys who are not helping in the kitchen the way you think they ought to be. Keep your own soul in order. Consider that you are inviting the Lord Jesus to sit down with your family and friends at your table. Prepare for Him. Keep your soul fastened on His faithfulness and commit all you do to Him. Then keep it there.
After putting so much of ourselves into the planning and preparation, it is easy to feel a prideful ownership of it all. If you do, you are set up for trouble. If your family or guests don’t appreciate your work the way you think they should, you may feel annoyed, unappreciated, or frustrated. Keep all your plans surrendered to the Lord, so if it doesn’t go “your way,” you will know it went His way and you can be content.
Freely you have received, freely give (Mt. 10:8). We don’t fully appreciate all the blessings that God pours out on our heads every day. So we ought not get too fussy about how appreciative everyone is of us for the little things we have done for them. If your daughter tosses aside the gift you spent so much time on, don’t be offended. If someone forgets to thank you for a gift, let it go. If your husband gives you a chainsaw instead of the pearls you were hoping for, keep your sense of humor. This is an opportunity to spread a thick layer of love over everything and everyone.
Be content. Sometimes discontentment can creep into the festivities. You feel mad at yourself for eating too much (instead of thanking God for the feast); you’re not sure so-in-so really liked their gift; you worry that you spent too much money; you are sick of being away from home and want your own bed; you miss your family or friends; and there’s the chainsaw to deal with. Whatever the provocation, discontent robs us of the joy we should have in what God has ordained for us. If you are paying attention, you will notice this temptation and it won’t overtake you. Gratitude is the best countermeasure. So sing some more carols, thank God for allowing His people to celebrate the Advent of Christ. And realize we all have a long way to go in learning how to enjoy the festival like good children.