How to Give Yourself the Gift of Time this Christmas

Dec 09, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Enjoy this guest blog post written by Pamela Barnhill of Your Morning Basket.

I can be somewhat of a Christmas Grinch.

A few years ago when my children were 7, 5, and 3, my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months. To say it was tough would be a vast understatement, but so many in our homeschool and church community blessed us by providing help and support during that deployment.

One young person from the church even went out of her way to gift my kids with the latest Christmas craze—the Elf on the Shelf. If you are not familiar with said elf, the creepy little creature's job is to spy upon children and report their behavior back to Santa, all the while (if Pinterest is to be believed) causing mischief and mayhem around your house while you are sleeping. At the very least, he is supposed to move to a new location every stinkin' night. I think our elf's name was "Slacker" because he did none of those things―much to my children's disappointment.

Now there was a corollary to this elf nonsense that if at any time a child in the family touched said elf, then he would disappear—never to return. I am not so sad to report that this was the case at our house. Within two weeks an errant hand reached out and grabbed the elf in a brief moment of naughtiness, and indeed he has never been heard from since.

I am completely honest when I say that I have not experienced one pang of guilt over that—no, not one tiny twinge, despite the fact that my children still mention Slacker at least once a year. I just nod sadly and remind them that there are always consequences to our actions.

Now there are moms out there who love the elf and all the required machinations it involves, and I send them well wishes in their endeavors. I will not judge them for what brings them joy. But do not fear that my children are missing out on a magical Christmas experience. This year they visited two nationally renowned Christmas light displays—both before the first Sunday of Advent—although admittedly that's not the norm for our house. Typically, we follow a more traditional pattern of celebrating Christmas. Yes, it helps to focus our hearts on Jesus, but it also causes mom (and subsequently everyone else) much less stress.

Traditionally, the season between Thanksgiving (give or take) and Christmas Eve is known as Advent. Advent is not merely a countdown to Christmas that begins around December first, but a period of preparation for the first (and second) coming of Christ. Liturgical Christians utilize the period as a time of extra prayer and for works of charity. Christmas celebrations then begin on December 25 and stretch for twelve days through January 6 and the feast of Epiphany.

Following a more traditional Christmas pattern helps us stretch out not only the enjoyment of the season, but the work of it as well. Think about it. When Christmas doesn't start until the evening of December 24, you have weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to decorate your house and do all the preparatory work. In our house, we leisurely take one day to pull the decorations down from the attic. Another to put up the tree. And then it could be an entire week later before we get around to decorating it. In between time we deck a mantle one day, hang wreaths the next, and enjoy our holiday decorating.

All the cookies don't have to be baked before December 25. All the parties don't have to be completed by then. And though our family still does all of its gift-giving by that day, there are some families who wait until January 6 and take advantage of extra time to purchase and wrap presents.

And all those seasonal activities I wanted to do in my homeschool and didn't quite have time for in early December? They work even better from December 26 to January 5, when the rest of the world has slowed down or, more likely, packed away the tree and returned to winter. Then we can do our Christmas Celebration Morning Time plans, read aloud a Christmas classic, and decorate our gingerbread house kits (bought on clearance ? ).

I encourage you to give it a try. Look at your list of Christmas expectations and choose a few that you have control over, and move them to the days between Christmas Day and January 6. Then, sit back and breathe a little easier this holiday season. Think of it as a gift that you can give yourself.

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