This year, this crazy year has given us so many new challenges. Holidays are upon us and we have had to find new ways to visit Santa, pick up gifts, we’ve missed out on parties and family visits. I know we have felt the strain between keeping traditions alive and the health and safety of our loved ones. Finances have changed for many, making us evaluate what Christmas morning looks like. Many families this year are missing someone special around the table, and our hearts and prayers surround them as they mourn. As we walk with our tribe through this extraordinary holiday season, we are presented with an opportunity to focus on what truly matters. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s taught us to value what is most important.
If I threw all the traditions, festive treats, black Friday deals, religious services, and family activities into a pot and boiled it down to the most important during the holidays, what would come to the surface would be these three: family, faith, and giving. All the extras are fun, but without these three as the main dish, the holiday season would not really have much significance. In a year where we have had to evaluate all our priorities and creatively pivot on a dime with plans and celebrations, keeping the main thing the main thing is vital. Let’s not make this too “pie in the sky;” because the kids are out of school and real life is still moving forward, we need it to be practical, attainable, and simple. A Simply Extraordinary Christmas. What does choosing family, faith, and giving as priorities this Christmas season really look like for us?
This one hits close to home. I’ve watched over the last 9 months many people lose their lives in this pandemic. Absolutely heart wrenching at times. It causes me to hug my kiddos a little tighter for sure. It has changed my perspective for the better though, a deep desire to stay well connected to those most important to me. With the littles in our household... how do we engage them this holiday season?
- 1. Be Present. We have been present in the home much more than in years past. However being physically in the same space does not equate to quality presence. Put down social media, emails, and housework and play! This Christmas, make your children’s hearts overflow with affection and attention by engaging simply with your attention. You know what I don’t care much about... Star Wars. My oldest, however, loves all things Star Wars and wants nothing more than for me to listen to him talk about every detail. So... I do. Endeavor to do more listening. The twins are five now and eager to play and participate. Pull out those card games, cookie mix, kid-friendly minute to win it games and go to town. Make a mess. Laugh and joke. Make it memorable, because they will remember those times more than anything wrapped under the tree. Being present doesn’t have to cost a lot, just your willing heart to connect.
If you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or straight up Santa and reindeer, what you believe about the holidays is the center of your celebration. There is meaning found in our traditions, and for some reason they have more significance now than in years past. For my family, celebrating the birth of Jesus is more than having a tree and presents; it’s about promises fulfilled and compelling love. Our world and our kids’ world has been turned upside down this year. When there is uncertainty in us about the future, they, no doubt, have felt it. Now is a great time to return and rekindle the faith we hold so dear. Our family needs the stability of Truth in a world of chaos. The 2020 dumpster fire is still burning. Our homes can and should be an oasis of peace for our family.
- · Everything may not be perfect this year. Peace is not the cessation of stressful situations, but the internal position of our hearts. For me, I look for ways to first settle my heart in peace, then set an atmosphere in my home that facilitates it. At the beginning of Christmas break, we sat our boys down and talked to them about how special these next few days would be. There may be many moving parts, and what blesses our family most is if they make every effort to be kind and compassionate to each other. Holidays are great training ground for little hearts on how to handle stress. If your kids are old enough, take some time to let them know about the special reasons you do things, and ask them to participate in heart and in action. Relax, cuddle, let things go undone if necessary.
- · Love is the driving force behind the birth of Jesus. If your family is celebrating Christmas for this reason, then one fun way to make it real is to read together from the Bible the Christmas Story. Find a version that your kids can connect to. Even if it’s not in your practice to read the Bible routinely, make it a point to read this every year. You may be surprised just how much peace it brings you internally, which will flow to others around you.
Often when we talk about giving, we immediately think financial giving. That is not what I mean when I say giving is a priority during the holidays. Giving can be of our time, our energy, a phone call, a handmade gift, a help running errands, anything that you can do to the benefit of others counts! We have talked before about how giving truly blesses you as much as the receiver, and during the holidays it’s a perfect time to do so. Without generosity during the holidays, many people would go without. What I know about the FWMoMs is that giving is part of your nature! I’ve not known a more compassionate and giving group of people in my life. So, let’s make giving practical and creative for 2020.
- · Start with family. Give generously to the ones in your household, extended family, and to friends who call you family. Make it simple, make it thoughtful and you can’t go wrong! Second, look for creative ways to give outside your circle. My husband loves to look for opportunities at the grocery store to surprise families by covering their grocery order. He never wants credit, just witnesses a need and meets it. As a family we love to pick an angel tree child and help our kiddos participate in choosing the gifts. We create an open flow of communication with our kids to notice others in need, and look for a way to meet it. We have a family across the street from us that we can see struggles financially. At the end of our moving sale, my oldest asked to give them the toys and bedding that remained. A lifestyle of giving can begin during the holidays. Consider serving a meal at a shelter, or bringing Christmas dinner to a widow, writing letters to seniors... whatever is in your hands to do, then DO!
As we embark on Christmas and the holidays, I implore you, friends, to focus on what matters most. Just because Christmas may look and feel different, when the key elements are there it will be a Christmas to never forget. Family, Faith and Giving. Merry Christmas, tribe!
“Then the angel said to them, do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” -Luke 2:10-11
Tonya Flowers is a mother to Lucas, and twins Wyatt and Timothy. She is a wife, nurse, minister and currently serves FWMOM as our Chaplain.