My husband, two daughters, and I will be having a quiet Christmas this year. It’s the first year where we will not be traveling back to the midwest to see family, nor will any family be traveling out to see us. (My brother talked about coming in a week, but considering that he hasn’t bought his ticket yet, I’m not holding my breath.) We also didn’t have any family around for Thanksgiving, so we are in the midst of a family-less holiday season.
Today it’s starting to hit me. This Christmas is going to be different from any Christmas I’ve ever had. All the little things that have come to mean Christmas to me won’t be there. Yes, there will still be Jesus and Christmas services, and yes, we will still have a tree and presents, but beyond that — it’s all liable to change. For me growing up, Christmas always involved lots of family visiting. Plus, there were children’s Christmas services on Christmas Eve (Lyd’s Christmas services is Dec. 14), candlelight Christmas Eve services late at night (we don’t do one here, and JJ and I can’t go to one because who would babysit for us?). There were choir concerts to attend (we have those out here for sure, but we haven’t found a way to get to one because of the babysitting again, and the ones we have gone to in the past just weren’t up to the standards set by the good midwestern Lutheran choirs that we were used to), homes of church shut-in’s to go caroling at (we don’t have a church choir this year, and we only have 3 shut-in’s and they’re all 45 minutes apart – in good traffic). Plus this year our church is not doing midweek Advent services; I am completely in agreement that JJ should not do them given our church’s situation and his own current workload. It’s one thing that is pretty easily dropped. I know all that, but I miss them nonetheless.
And, it’s going to be just JJ and the girls and I for Christmas. That’s it.
I was in real danger of feeling sorry for myself this evening, as JJ and the girls and I drove around looking at Christmas lights after eating out at our favorite local Mexican restaurant for supper. I was focusing solely on me, and focusing on everything that I wasn’t going to have.
But then, Lyd’s enthusiasm for all the Christmas lights that she was seeing brought me back to the present. I am my daughters’ momma. My job, my priviledge is to make Christmas for my girls. I realize now how HARD my mother worked every Christmas, how TIRED she got, making sure that Christmas and everything that went with it happened at our home. I know now how much I took for granted growing up. Honestly, I really want my mother to come and take over Christmas again. I don’t want to be the one in charge. I want someone else to do it.
But, the title of this blog is “not finished yet,” right? I know that God is doing what he needs to do in me to help me to grow up. I see proof of it every single day of my life. Not a day goes by where I don’t see God’s hand in something, something I can see helping me to grow up. And part of being the Momma is learning to focus on others. To be the giver. To make Christmas for others. And, hopefully, in doing so, to find my own joy.
Moreover, Lyd and Curious J don’t have the expectations for Christmas that I have. They are essentially blank slates (although Lyd does want to help decorate the house, since she remembers what it looked like last year). I dare not burden them with my feelings of loss and feelings of “something’s missing” at Christmas. As far as they are concerned, nothing is missing! Momma and Daddy are both here, there will be presents, and there will be a tree! What more do they want?
So, over the next three weeks, I’m going to do my best to focus on making Christmas special for my girls, especially for Lyd, who is now old enough to remember last Christmas. Hopefully in focusing on them, and in not focusing on what I won’t have this Christmas, I will still be able to find joy and happiness … and peace.
Maybe in all this, I can re-discover the baby in the manger, too. Perhaps with all the Christmas extras stripped away, I’ll be able to better focus on what Christmas is really about. Hopefully I can help my girls focus on that, too.
On a cheerier tone, JJ and I are planning to do things we’ve never done before this Christmas, such as going up to San Francisco and seeing the big tree in Union Square, as well as seeing SF all decorated for the holidays. We hear there’s an ice skating rink in Union Square; maybe we’ll visit that. Who knows? With no family committments, our options are all open.
Plus, I plan on making and decorating some cookies together with Lyd. Perhaps JJ can even get in on the fun a bit, too. He hasn’t had to travel at all this month (so nice!), and with no mid-week Advent services, perhaps we can squeeze in some Christmas-y moments together as a family. I do have some standard Christmas cookies that I make every year, and having those around will help things seem Christmas-y.
I’m not going to decorate the house very much this year, simply because Curious J will tear it all to pieces. She’s into everything. Sigh. But, I decided we will do a tree. I couldn’t have Christmas without a tree. Decorating it is always fun. I’ve decided that this is the year for non-breakable ornaments on the tree!
And this weekend is Lyd’s first Dance Festival. Her little Kinderdance group is doing a dance called “Snowflakes and Winter Wind.” Lyd is a snowflake. JJ and I will be going to her performances Saturday night and Sunday night. Should be fun!