Let me just say it right out of the gate: I adore Christmas. The lights, the music, the decorations, the weather, the gifts, the church services, the fancy outfits, the cooking, the baking, the parties, the movies, the fires, the hot chocolate, Santa, Jesus, reindeer, mangers, elves, angels, family.
I love it all. I always have.
Over the past several years Christmas held a new feeling in my heart. Things were changing, and I knew it. My kids were growing up. Our Christmas traditions were about to take a sharp right turn into never again the same.
This year we finally arrived. Never again the same meet The Patton Family Christmas.
Keighty will celebrate Christmas in Vietnam or Cambodia. She isn’t even sure where she will be. Blake is celebrating Christmas in China. Andy will be home, but he is engaged. This is our last Christmas as his first family.
None of these things are bad. In fact, they are all good. Keighty and Blake will experience a cross-cultural Christmas while serving Christ. Andy is starting his own family with a beautiful young woman. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It just leaves John and I in a state of new.
I have been a mom as long as I have been an adult. I have never done Christmas without children. To top it off, my favorite thing about Christmas is buying, wrapping and giving gifts. With two out of the four on my main gift list out of the country and one asking for text books, my list just dropped to- well- not much.
These facts leave me with a decision. I must decide what am I going to do about Christmas.
Am I going to decorate?
Am I going to cook and bake?
Will I smile and sing loud enough for everyone to hear?
Will I make a fire, warm hot chocolate, turn on A Charlie Brown Christmas, and curl up with a blanket while watching the Christmas lights twinkle out of the corner of my eye?
Will I choose Christmas?
The answer is yes, I am choosing Christmas. Although, I don’t fully know what that means or looks like, I am going to focus on four things to make this possible.
1. Choose the spouse of your youth.
The writer of Proverbs 5 informs his reader not to forsake the wife of his youth. The context is immorality, but the principle applies here as well. It is important that I delight in John and never take his love for granted. Although my children are important, John is the one I will spend my life with. This Christmas I am going to enjoy John and our relationship. He is a gift from God.
2. Share your feelings and express your needs.
While I don’t need to stay stuck in my feelings, it is important I share them with a few people. Expressing my needs is just as important as sharing my feelings. This week I will take some time to think about what I need to help me enjoy Christmas as well as what I need to do to grieve the end of a season in my life.
3. Modify traditions and make some new ones.
Traditions are important, but we shouldn’t be so set in our ways that they become sacred cows. Early in our marriage, John and I modified the traditions we grew up with. It is time to adjust those traditions for our changing family. It is also time to create new traditions. Looking forward to new things will take my focus off the old.
4. Celebrate the change.
As I said, none of the change taking place is bad. If I choose to see this change for what it is- something new– then I can celebrate all that is good about it. It is natural to mourn losses, but life without change and growth is not really living at all. This month I will focus on celebrating all the gifts God is bringing into my life.
Maybe you are in the thick of change, too. Maybe change is around the corner. Maybe you are a pro at change during the holidays. I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you handle change? What other ways can we choose Christmas?