Christmas is such a hard time of year. Everyone, including myself, is bogged down with “to-do” lists and running in circles. That is why this year I chose to focus on the Advent preparation for Christmas Day. Focusing on what I can give this season that will last and not just some wrapped up prize for someone to open. This year was especially draining – I am working full time (and part time). And being able to share my thoughts and sentiments was also very tough. I ran out of time and steam! My three month plan to “save” money just bottomed out – totally!¬† I ran myself ragged and didn’t stop until Christmas Day. When all was set and done – we had a simple Christmas. Everyone agreed not to buy needless gifts that no one wanted or needed. We decided on gift cards and small gifts.I for one hate getting gifts that I can’t/won’t ever use. It feels spoiled and useless to me. So we took everyone’s advice and did just that. After a Christmas Eve – yes guilty – of last minute gift hunting and kiffle baking, Christmas finally settled in.

Yet, I felt unsettled and thrown into the holiday :-(. I felt totally out of my element, like I was trying to catch up. I vaugely remember Christmas Eve – laughter and paper flying everywhere ūüôā – kids…you know.¬† So it seemed we had a “wild” Christmas Eve.

As I drifted off to sleep I had a restless energy and a “tiny” hopeful spirit for Christmas Day. I awoke with even more on my mind than the night before. Just too too much to do and today was the day. We set forth with our plans to have a simple menu instead of a big dinner. We wanted to relax and enjoy the day. The day was filled with present wrapping, laughter and just ‘goings on’. As always a busy house, we paced ourselves into the day and we finally settled in to open our gifts. We shared photos and a few humorous moments and Christmas Day was finally complete.

It would have been better if my Christmas cold/stomach bug didn’t catch up to me ūüė¶ yet the simplicity and comfort of the day was all I was longing for. I supposed a stocking filled with trinkets and a tree adorned with gifts is awesome and special but that isn’t what makes the reason for Christmas Day special. After all the gifts are opened and the paper is strewn around – those that you love dearest are the ones that you want to share the day with. Opening gifts alone is no fun either. Christmas is about special moments, joy, family, peace, love and faith – simplicity – these things cannot be wrapped up in boxes and decorated with bows. But they are simple gifts that last a lifetime.

I hope that you had a simply special Christmas.

So here it is the last week of Advent. A Family Advent: Keeping the Savior in the Season by Thomas Nelson Publishers, has guided us through the last few weeks. The themes being Hope, Peace, Love and now Joy – yes this is the time when the merriment of the holiday really starts to hit home. It is hard though when so much is going on. Work, work, work, holiday shopping, bills, errands, parties and where is the peace, the joy, the hope and the LOVE for the holiday that I once cherished as a child.

I swear I can never get Christmas right every year. Its like some year’s I am on – I get the right gifts and everything works out. And¬†other years I am totally off¬† – I have no idea what to get anyone, I can’t think of a single meaningful thing to make or create. That is this year – I am befuddled, I am stumped, I am JOY-less. I can’t seem to do Christmas right this year. Even my attempt to go through Advent seemed chaotic and forced – I wanted this to be special. I am still trying to figure it out – how I can salvage this last month of ups and downs. In my struggle to find hope, in my struggle to find peace, in my struggle to love and find joy – I know that there is JOY – for the world, for me, for everyone there is joy.

I have to¬†admit I’ve let the commercialism¬†of Christmas get the best of me. And it has gotten me down – totally depressed and stressed :-(. I would be most joyful with my family and friends at the table, sharing time together and talking together. Last Christmas was just that – time together, the memories and the laughter that is what I remember – the gifts are nice and it is wonderful to give gifts and receive. But it’s not the same if you open your gifts alone. The JOY of togetherness is what makes the true gift of this season special. That is my prayer and wish for the Christmas;

May the JOY of the Saviour’s birth bring us together in harmony, hope, peace, love and grace.

Merry Christmas!