From the star-topped tree to midnight mass, traditions are a big part of Christmas.
I have a confession to make:
I avoid most of them.
As a family we are inconsistent with gift giving and decorating. We have no annual holiday cookie bake-ups, traditional meals or Christmas craft activities.
I’d love to say my lack of traditions has come about because I’m expertly self-controlled and limit our commitments at Christmas in order to refresh our souls with the awesome news of the birth of Jesus, but that wouldn’t be entirely true.
Maybe it’s the pressure of being obligated to follow through year after year. My natural bent is to support and encourage, not to lead and push, so maybe it’s that I just don’t like to be the instigator. Or maybe it’s the conversations around Christmas that spark up something inside me that just wants to rebel against the expectations of the season.
We’re constantly told “it’s the busiest time of the year.”
We’re urged to get in quick for Christmas purchases, encouraged to stock up and prepare a huge checklist of items, and bombarded by a constant stream of articles about how to simplify, relax and actually enjoy the Christmas magic we’ve painstakingly created for our families.
“Slaved” is a term that comes to mind. No way am I buying into that. Seeing others so stressed out by it all scares me at the starting line.
So this year I’ve decided that what I want is a renewed and refreshed mind.
I want freedom from this fear, because I want to be able to enjoy some of these traditions in light-hearted moderation. I have been encouraged by the truth that you don’t have to be an extrovert to be a good leader. A leader is one who takes responsibility to find and nurture potential in others, and within my family I can do this – I want to do this. It’s not an authoritarian stance, but one of grace and growth. Along with my husband, I want to shape a healthy and Christ-centered family culture for our kids.
Disregarding the millions of ideas and expectations surrounding Christmas, traditions are all about passing down information, customs and beliefs.
What do I want to pass down?
My family does have Christmas traditions; it’s just that they’ve become so ingrained that they don’t really feel like traditions at all. We spend time together, sharing the cooking, serving and cleaning up. The cool of the afternoon cues cricket in the park and, after the long drive home, leftovers and toasted sandwiches for dinner.
Each year my grandpa would scour the bookstores for interesting finds and on Christmas he’d produce an array of literature on wide-ranging topics as gifts for all, inviting us to choose and swap them, always prepared (but never pushy) with a recommended read for anyone who looked a bit lost. My grandpa was excellent at family-making. He did it humbly, out of the overflow of his love for his family.
I love this book giving tradition because it is the perfect example of using one’s gifts and resources to benefit others.
What do I have to give?
I had forgotten, but the book gifting was not always done. It evolved as the family grew and changed. Although it often feels like it, there isn’t a rush. The count downs and preparatory checklists that make me feel like I’m already behind the Christmas planning eight ball are other people’s creations, and not a standard by which to judge myself.
I’m determined to stop seeing traditions as a burden and start seeing them as the blessing they can be. Not intimidated, not enslaved by a Christmas season of inflexibility and stress, but instead looking to bless those around me and cherish the family with which I have been entrusted.
When it comes to traditions, I’m focusing more on the why and less on the what.
I’m preparing to make a little move and see where it travels.
I’m looking to use my available resources and tap into presenting opportunities.
And I’m giving myself permission to start.
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Cat is a follower of Jesus, the tea-drinking wife of a coffee roaster and the stay-at-home mum of one busy toddler. She delights in the mingling of art and science, small and simple pleasures, wit and whimsy, and the doing of life. Her heart is to encourage. When she’s not pottering behind the scenes at Precision Coffee Roasters, you’ll likely find her eating cake, trying new recipes, making lists, or just playing – with or without a child.