In the Mood?
Copyright 2007, lani wiens
A fresh flowers original
This Christmas was going to be different, or so I thought. It was going to be full of peace and joy and family togetherness. This year I was prepared. I had the majority of my presents either purchased or ordered by the middle of November, or so I thought. Through the nagging, um encouragement of my daughter the house was decorated by the first of December. We were going to do something a little different since we threw out our old tree when we moved, we put up a “Jesse tree”. The Jesse tree advent celebration comes from the verse that states that out of the stump of Jesse a Messiah will come. So we got a dead branch out of the bush and set it up. We were going to follow the daily devotions as a family and this would point us to a great spiritual revelation of God’s love for us. We would all be filled with peace and joy this Christmas season, or so I thought.
I was so far ahead of the game that I even purchased ingredients to do baking. While I enjoy baking bread, I do NOT enjoy most other forms of baking. I find it rather pointless in my household. I can bake 32 dozen cookies and Tuesday and all that’s left by Thursday is the misshapen, broken bits at the bottom of the cookie jar.
I went on a little retreat at the beginning of December in order to do all my homemade gifts. It was a delightful weekend and I got tons done. I came home ready to face the busyness of banquets, programs and gift wrapping. I had purchased an alfalfa tonic to help with my fatigue (tasted terrible but it sure works). I had just finished teaching a wonderful Sunday school course that had me filled up and focused on the Lord. I was REALLY ready for these few weeks, or so I thought.
I even decided that this would be the year of the family picture card and newsletter sent out in hard copy rather than the electronic version I’ve been doing. Surely I would get an extra star in my crown for that. But I was so well prepared I knew it would be no problem.
Now here’s what really happened.
Apparently I’m getting a little forgetful in my old age. I managed to forget not just one but two gift lists. To keep it even, one on each side of the family. I wasn’t aware of the traditions in our small town so found out that all my boys would be involved in gift exchanges in their classrooms. I wasn’t aware that it was tradition that the kids in the Sunday school give their teachers gifts, dropped that ball, too.
Our spiritual revelation hasn’t come yet. The devotional set we chose was, unfortunately, a lot over our kids heads, it wasn’t the simple, homespun thing I thought it was. The up side of the family devotions, as chaotic and stressful as it was was that our son who has struggled with reading willingly took his turn reading scripture – most of the time.
Every time we saw a green Christmas tree or decorations, my youngest son didn’t waste time telling me that we ought to decorate our house that way. It was a constant reminder that my decorating was woefully inadequate in his estimation. I told him that when he and the other children were bigger and there were a lot less flying objects in our house, maybe our house would be decorated like that, too.
Those baking ingredients haven’t been used. The only extra baking I managed to get in besides the super easy whipped shortbread I made for the youth group was from purchased cookie dough that I managed to burn. Apparently without the investment of mixing ingredients my psyche can’t deal with the pressure of watching cookies.
I realized too late that it isn’t the big gifts that will do you in, it’s the little odds and ends; the school pictures, the Christmas cards, the little gift exchanges, the endless list of people who do things for you that you take for granted the rest of the year that you suddenly decide you want to recognize, the wrapping and all the other myriad things that need to get done. No anti-fatigue tonic can help you when you stay up late every night and run yourself ragged all day.
The Christmas cards, while a great idea, proved to be a much larger task than we thought with our desire to send a card to all our friends in our old church, giving them to the new church friends as well as long distance friends and of course all the relatives. Searching out addresses and figuring out how to save on postage by hand-delivery proved to be a monumental task. Worth it? Certainly, but I’m guessing it may not happen again soon.
Yes, this mama was not happy and you know how the saying goes, when mama ain;t happy, ain’t nobody happy. My homeschooling schedule went right out the window causing me more stress. The house became a little more than chaotic and I seemed to just be stressed and yelling at everyone. Joy and peace were not resident and it largely had to do with me. This was not what I had envisioned. I was definitely NOT in the mood for Christmas, I was ready to give up on the whole idea.
But God hadn’t given up on me, even though I was pretty sure that I wasn’t bringing Him any blessing at this point. One evening after I had run around helping one child with his wrapping, another with a sewing project, listening to the baby cry and flung myself down on the lower bunk to sing Jesus songs so my little boys would go to sleep so I could go back to my sewing machine, wrapping and cleaning. I was part way through Jesus Loves Me when the Holy Spirit began to convict me of my heart’s attitude. I flung around in my memory for a song that I could sing and mean. Jesus, Be the Centre is what came to mind...”be the fire in my heart, be the wind in my sails, be the reason that I live, Jesus” Then the Spirit led me to...”you are my strength when I am weak, you are treasure that I seek, you are my all in all. When I am down you pick me up, when I am dry you fill my cup, you are my all in all. Jesus, lamb of God, Holy is Your Name.” By this time, my heart was streaming with tears even though my eyes weren’t, I no longer cared if my boys were sleeping I was finally where I belonged, at the feet of the One who came, lying in the manger, wrapped in His arms of love. “It’s all about you Jesus, and all this is for You.”
I emerged from the Holy of Holies with a new attitude and a new heart. My three youngest babies were sleeping, one sibling was helping another. My husband and oldest son came home to a new atmosphere that was almost tangible. My husband was greatly relieved, he had become concerned with my frantic pace and snippy countenance. While the list of things to do hadn’t changed, my heart had completely transformed. Joy and peace on earth were possible again. Christmas came back in a manger, in the dark of my boys’ messy bedroom. Thank you Jesus for your faithfulness to us, even when we completely forget why we’re doing all this running around. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.