My kids are at pretty much the perfect ages for a MAGICAL CHRISTMAS.
Mila is old enough to have expectations and strong opinions about what we should or should not do to have the “perfect” Christmas.
Margot gets sparkly-eyed anytime she sees Christmas lights anywhere. Just stopping into a home decor store last week sent her into raptures about how beautiful everything was.
Ryan belted a semi-unintelligible version of Jingle Bells from his crib for 20 minutes before he fell asleep last night.
Right now, everything is exciting to them.
And I love it. I do. Our house is overflowing with handmade snowflakes and crayon drawings of Christmas trees. We listen to Christmas music almost nonstop. David put lights on the house last weekend and next week we’ll go pick out the perfect live tree. Over the next few weeks we’ll have enough sugar cookies, cinnamon rolls, and candy canes to satisfy a small army, I’m sure.
But as fun as jingle bells + Elf + rocking around the Christmas tree + Santa Claus + ho ho ho + mistletoe + presents to pretty girls are, that’s not what Christmas is really all about, is it Charlie Brown?
Two years ago my friend Sam wrote about the French carol “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella.” (Incidentally, Sam has written about a ton of Christmas songs over the last couple years. You should head over and read them all. He’s got some real gems in there.)
The closer December got, the more his post kept popping into my mind, and this paragraph in particular:
“It’s very easy for us to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas. We look forward to opening gifts, to watching fun movies, to laughing with our families and friends, and to drinking eggnog by the fire. (I am not convinced that anyone actually drinks eggnog.) It’s tempting to allow ourselves to give in to the thrill of the occasion rather than the reverence of it. Christmas is a time for us to reflect on the birth of our Savior and on the holiness of that night. There’s a lot to shout about, but we may want to take a moment and exercise a little temperance as we celebrate the season.”
YES. Exactly this.
With young kids, I’m often tempted to let go of any sense of reverence and allow the excitement to run its course. Excitement is more fun. It’s certainly easier.
But I’m playing the parenting long game. Every choice I make has a consequence. And choices that are fun + easy don’t often lead to consequences for my children like goodness + lasting joy.
Not that there’s no place for fun. If anything I’m trying extra hard to appreciate how delightful these little beasties are, knowing full well these moments won’t last forever. However, in all the fun + excitement, I also want to be sure I’m showing them that there’s a time and place for restraint + reverence.
It’s a challenge for sure.
I’m trying to find quiet pockets of time to be present with them. We read stories or just chat. I try to shift their attention away from receiving and toward gratitude and giving. We snuggle a lot. I’m not mad about it.
We’ll probably go visit Santa at some point in the next couple weeks. Meanwhile, we’re also doing a small devotional each night where we read scripture and learn more about Jesus.
There will be plenty of family dance parties to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” but we’ll also be listening to “The Wexford Carol” and “The Friendly Beasts.”
We’ll go to Christmas parties that are loud and crowded and so much fun. Hopefully we can also go to Christmas events that are more focused on the sacredness of anticipating the Savior’s birth.
It’s about finding a balance.
Isn’t that what parenting, holidays, and life in general are always about?
Tell me, friends: how do you balance the excitement and reverence of the season?