by EMMA CRAUFORD
“Look Mum,” he screamed in the middle of the store, his finger pointing ahead of him and his eyes wide with wonder.
My eyes followed his finger.
“It’s a Christmas Tree mum, it’s so BOOOTIFUL!” he said in his cute little-boy way. That’s when I felt it, the knot in my stomach and then these words came crashing in.
I can’t cope.
I’m not ready.
Didn’t we just have Christmas?
There’s much to do.
Are you kidding?
The weird thing is that I LOVE and have ALWAYS LOVED Christmas. My favourite time of year I have said on more than one occasion. It’s usually around now that I start listening to Christmas music, much to the patience and long suffering of my family, and truth be told I would have my tree up a lot sooner than the first week of December, if we could jolly well find the time to do it.
Music and trees aside, the reality for me as a Christian, is that Christmas is about CELEBRATING the birth of my Saviour, Jesus, without whom, my life would be meaningless. And I get to celebrate this with my family and friends who I love beyond measure and to top it all off we cook and eat lots of great food throughout the season. Work slows down for my husband, my kids are home, the days are long and warm.
That should make me one very happy camper….and it does….to a point. Increasingly over the last few years, I hear myself and the weary mums around me voicing our struggles and fears over the festive season approaching.
I wish I could skip Christmas this year.
I wish we could go away for it and miss it all together.
I hate this time of year.
I can’t face Christmas after the year we’ve had.
The reality sinks in that in the midst of busyness, tiredness, broken and messy families, weary and worn out bodies and stress, so many find CHRISTMAS another thing that they have to DO and ENDURE rather than something to CELEBRATE.
But then I can’t help and remember one of the words that we associate with this season.
It’s sung about, written on cards, printed on wrapping paper and hung all around the shops. Is this not the exact opposite of how most of us feel this time of year? How can such a busy time of year, with unrealistic expectations and messy relationships have anything to do with PEACE?
The truth is, this side of heaven we live in the MESS and MAYHEM that is life here on earth. But what I celebrate at Christmas time, is that God loved us so much he didn’t want to leave us alone in our mess and wandering around in mayhem.
He came to bring PEACE.
Oh how easily I forget this. And I fear I am not alone.
In the rushing about to celebrate Him, I lose sight of Him all together. The season has become for so many of us marked by unrealistic expectations, stress over gift giving, short tempers in the car park, ungrateful and spoilt children and a general OVER-WHELMED feeling that it’s too hard to pull it off altogether.
It was the wide-eyed wonder of my little boy that pulled me out of my self-absorbed ranting in my head that day.
Yes, the tree was beautiful. Yes, Christmas is coming and will come around every year in fact.
When will I stop being so surprised by this?
And I can actually cope.
Because my Saviour Jesus, the PRINCE OF PEACE never actually asked or demanded I run myself ragged theming my hand written cards, with my handmade paper, to wrap my handmade truffles, to deliver to ALL of my neighbours, with a smile on my face, while my turkey is roasting and pudding boiling inside my immaculate house where my well-behaved children are quietly playing together under my perfect tinsel-free Christmas tree.
That’s my doing. Not His.
There’s nothing wrong with finding joy and beauty in the season doing any of the above things. The days I stay home making Christmas cakes and our pudding while listening to Christmas music are some of my favourite days of the year.
But there is something wrong when trying to achieve all of that, steals my PEACE and JOY in a season where I am celebrating the fact that I never had to earn or achieve what he came to freely give.
I didn’t have to climb a ladder to heaven….He came to me!
That’s the GRACE that’s so amazing that everyone will sing about at Carols by Candlelight eachyear.
He came for me.
He came for you.
I am reclaiming His PEACE and PROMISES this Christmas. I’m going to choose JOY over stress, good-enough over perfect and people over productivity.
Who wants to join me?
Emma is from Sydney, Australia, where she is raising 3 beautiful boys alongside her husband. Her happy place is her kitchen, and cookfasteatslow.com is her blog about her everyday simple food, her faith and her family.