When I woke up today and saw the temperature on my phone read 1 degree outside, I really wanted to go back to bed. But alas, it is Friday, hubby had work obligations, 2/3 boys needed to make the bus today(which is proving to be more of a challenge every day), and my last boy has occupational therapy every Friday morning at 9:15, so get up and adult I must.

We went to OT, ran to Trader Joe’s, ran to Fresh Market, ran to Bed, Bath, & Beyond(we really did run to all these places, it is bone chillingly cold out there), and lastly ran to my friends house to walk her dog.

Now we are home and I’m still freezing from being outside, mostly being outside and laying on the ground, because what did I do? Rolled my ankle. As I lay there on the frozen cold ground I had a few thoughts; 1- oh my gosh, this really hurts, 2-oh my gosh, do I have my phone on me in case I need to call for help, 3- oh my gosh, Logan is in the car waiting for me, 4-oh my gosh, I’m going to get frost bite and die out here(a little dramatic-I know), and when I scraped myself off the ground I had thought #5- oh my gosh, the car is really far away.

So as I lay here under Handy Manny covers with my foot elevated, my sister texted, “no more adulting for you today” and all of a sudden I thought, wow, that’s right. I’m off the hook from any adult activity for the day. Is that all it takes? Instantly my mood changed from woe is me to raise the roof happy dance. I handed the task of reading to 1st grade to my husband and wrestled with the idea of watching a Hallmark movie or blogging, and since I already made plans to blog today, here I am.

The weeks leading up to Christmas have been exhausting to say the least. It is such a busy season, but yet it is a season that is supposed to be filled with so much joy. As I think of the joy that this season brings as my family and I are getting ready to celebrate Christ’s birth, I also think of the sadness that people experience over this time of year. Whether it is because of grieving loved ones who won’t be with us during the holidays, being away from family, feuding family members, strained family relationships, being unemployed or just living pay check to pay check like most people and not being able to afford the gifts, the parties, the yankee swaps or secret santa exchanges, etc, there are so many reasons for people to feel hopeless, lost, and sad during Christmas time.

To be completely honest, I have had a grinchy issue over the last week… That saddens me deeply. Why do I feel grinchy? I can think of many reasons, but the main culprit behind it all is, drumroll please… expectations. Expectations ruin our perspective, it ruins our perception, it gets us thinking that everything is awesome. I will give you an example. A few weeks ago I saw an event a nearby town was having one night and I wanted to go to it because it would be the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season. It was called Christmas in the Square. There would be caroling, Santa Clause, and a festival of trees.  Yes, this would be perfect for my family. Then my husband had to go to work, vision of family time-gone. No problem, I texted a friend, we piled our 5 combined kids in my minivan and off we went. Then we got there, no parking, no problem. We drove until we found a spot. We unloaded the car and walked quite a ways to the center, no problem, until we reached the center. Christmas in the Square resembled a mash pit. People just stood in the roads and side walks in bunches, there was no walking room, we had to walk single file to get through the crowds. My eyes alone watching my 5, 7, and 9 year was enough to put me in a panic that we would get separated and I would lose someone. My friend and I decided to walk to the festival of trees, surely that would be Christmasy. FAIL! The festival of trees was a silent auction. A jammed pack room with miniature trees with clipboards underneath asking how much I would pay for the lego tree, the baby tree, the jewelry tree… We found a table giving out free cider and cookies and high tailed it out of there to then wait in line for 20 minutes at the ice cream store to make the whole outing worth it, because ice cream and chocolate are a sure cure to anything. My perception set me up for failure. I went to Christmas in the Sqaure thinking that it would be a quiet and beautiful celebration, like a night in Stars Hollow, it wasn’t. It was everything that I don’t want this season to be filled with. Not to say it isn’t a great event, but it is not what I was looking for.

The Grinch said, “maybe Christmas perhaps doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

That Grinch was a smart guy. Christmas means more than gifts, shopping, and busyness. It means more than lights, decorations, and cookies. It means more than cards, candy canes, and cocoa. It means more than trees, parties, and gingerbread. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things are great, but let’s not lose the meaning of the reason for the season in all of this. The reason for the season is Jesus, the savior, born on Christmas day.

With Jesus in mind, at the front and center of my mind, I don’t want to buy gifts for my family and count them, making sure each kid is even. I want to get my friends and family members heartfelt gifts that express our love for them because we listened to them throughout the year, we paid attention. We didn’t get them every item on their list, but instead got them the things we believed they would truly enjoy. I don’t want to rush from event to event with my mind on my to do list. I want to go to each party or concert fully present and fully engaged. I don’t want to be weighed down by so many commitments that I miss the Jesus moments of being with my family or serving friends or strangers in need. Truth is, people don’t need things, people need love.

So where do I go from here? I need to slow down. Yes, I still have shopping to do, but I’m thinking ahead to next year. Next year, I hope to go into the Christmas season with the shopping done already. I would love, love, love to cross shopping off of the already jam packed to do list of the Christmas season. The great news for me and my family this year, is that we have not put a single gift on a credit card, which means we won’t start 2017 in more debt than we were already in, wahoo! Another thing I would like to intentionally plan for  with my family is service. How can we serve others during the Christmas season. Maybe that can be a goal for the New Year, people don’t just need help during Christmas time, but really all the time.

There are 9 days left until Christmas, and I resolve today that I will change my perspective. There are not just 9 shopping days left, but 9 days left of the advent season leading up to the birth of my Lord and Savior. I want to live those 9 days as well as the 365 days until next Christmas, living with Jesus in mind, living the way he wants me to live, with a heart full of the holy spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. All of these things are free and easy to give away. You won’t find them in a shopping mall, but in the hearts of people who know and love Jesus. Merry Christmas!