This year seemed to be a struggle to get our Christmas decorations up. Usually we pick a day soon after Thanksgiving for the massive explosion of gold ornaments and half lit light strings, extension cords and Christmas wall hangings all cheerfully (to Christmas music of course) to be placed in trees, on mantles and doors by our family in one long but satisfying afternoon. This year, however, it was a slow motion eruption that took days instead of hours. And some decorations were left in the boxes–they are just not coming out this year. And this all was frustrating to me, because this wasn’t how we usually did Christmas and I couldn’t change it.
Change has been knocking on our door for a while now and I have been resisting it. It has been a gradual but monumental shift of how we do family life, all as a result of our children growing up. We now have an 18, 15 and 13 year old, and they are tall and independent and busy. But I still want them to be short and dependent and not so busy –or busy in a controllable sort of way, where I schedule the sports and play-dates around my mom-agenda for our family, like sitting together around the dinner table or 8:30 bedtime.
But that is not reality anymore. They are busy being the people we have taught them to be; involved in church commitments, holding down jobs, being loyal friends and studious students. Which means they are most often not all home together for dinner, or in bed early, or around on the weekends. And I find myself resisting this all the time. I am constantly surprised and often frustrated at how little we all sit down together at the dinner table, or when we would plan a time for all of us to go out to eat or watch a movie, inevitably someone has been scheduled to work or has a sports conflict. My children feel like slippery jello through my mom-fingers.
And then this year change messed with a very important thing–Christmas Tradition.
Traditionally, for many years, we have formed a SUV caravan with friends to Winter Park the Saturday after Thanksgiving to cut down a tree. We meet at Starbucks at 9:00AM with our boots and hats and saws, make our plan and head off. We do this as a family, a whole family. We spend the day trekking through the forest in search of the not-so-perfect Charlie Brown tree, and after all the families finish the hunt, we tailgate with cheese and bread and wine. It is wonderful. Then we drive back down the snowy roads of I70, drag the tree through our front door (always realizing it is way too tall), crank up the reindeer and holy night music and create Christmas in our home for the evening. Did I mention we always did this…all five of us?
Until this year. We found out one of our children had to work at 2:00PM on the sacred tree cutting Saturday (and could not get out of it), another wasn’t feeling well, and my husband was exhausted from a marathon of work trips, and it just seemed like it was too much for our family this year. We cancelled. And as we sat on the couch watching football that day we told ourselves, “This was a good decision.” And it was. But it was still difficult, and felt like more of the jello issue. Our dear friends still went and brought us back the perfect tree– just without the memories.
Two days later the tree sat in its stand, half lit and unadorned because we just couldn’t get it together to decorate…anything. It was like herding cats–my husband had to leave out of town again, the kids had church commitments and friend plans. And I was being stubborn–I wanted us all to do this together, like we always did.
By Tuesday, I realized it was happening again–I was resisting change.
I pulled out the Christmas boxes from the basement and began to decorate. I remembered an hour in to turn on the Christmas music, and began to do a little jig while placing gold balls all over our tree. The lights went up, the nutcrackers and Santas and manger and snowmen all took their respective places. Later in the day Maddie, our youngest, walked in the door from school and exclaimed, “Holy Christmas!” I smiled inside. That night, when I considered not putting the garland wrapped up the stairs like I always do, my oldest daughter said, “Mom, you HAVE to do the garland up the stairs!” I smiled again…some things don’t change.
The following weekend, when my husband and I snuck away for a quick anniversary trip, this same daughter drove to Target, bought outdoor Christmas lights that were missing, asked a good friend to come over to help, and ran extension cords and timers and red and white lights throughout the trees in our yard.
Well, this was new.
I have decided to stop resisting the fact that change is no longer knocking but has a recliner and a personalized coffee mug in our home. I am learning this Christmas to look for the new traditions, the gifts the older children bring to our home and our life (like driving themselves to Target to help with Christmas decorating without being asked), and be okay when some traditions shift temporarily or even permanently.
Times are changing, and most likely they are for the good.
When I feel frustrated that things are “different” I am going to ask myself–where is the frustration coming from? Am I being too controlling? Is this an area where I am resisting instead of embracing change?
To Think About:
Jesus was a great implementer of change. His birth and life challenged and frustrated many who resisted his message because it was different than their traditions and ways of life and thinking, but it changed EVERYTHING for us for good, for eternity. Change and doing things a new way can be incredibly positive if we are willing to embrace it.
- What change are you resisting in your life?
- Why do you think you are resisting it?
- What things frustrate you that could possibly be a blessing if you embraced the change?
I wish you a blessed Christmas!!