Too Much Christmas

Posted on December 7, 2020

“While they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  Then she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:6-7, CSB

My childhood set of Berenstain Bear books can answer most of life’s questions. A family favorite is The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday . In it Sister Bear’s 6th birthday party (her first party with friends) gets bigger and bigger until it becomes too much for her. Sister dissolves into a puddle of tears, and everyone realizes Mama Bear was right. The big hubbub was just too much birthday.

How are you feeling as we ease into the second week of December? Are you feeling wise and content like Mama Bear? Or have you already succumbed to the insanity this season can bring?

Is there such a thing as “too much Christmas?”

When my kids were toddlers I felt the need to do all the things at Christmas. The pressure to make amazing memories and assure a meaningful season for my children was overwhelming. I remember spending hours with my calendar and computer, charting our path of Christmas parades, live nativities, pictures with Santa, and juggling multiple Advent calendars.

The result? A stressed out Mama and disappointed kiddos.

Friends, learn from my mistakes. I am far from perfect, but I have picked up a few tricks to make sure our family doesn’t dissolve into a puddle of tears crying “too much Christmas!”

  1. This entire list can be summed up in the wise words of my dear friend, Priscilla. “Do what blesses, not what burdens.” Every time you are tempted by the shiny picture on your friend’s social media or feel guilty because everyone else is doing it (I’m looking at you creepy Elf on the Shelf)-- ask yourself-- Will this bless my family or add to my burden?

  2. Choose quality over quantity. I’m not exaggerating when I say there was one year I scheduled four Christmas parades for us… one of them we sat huddled under umbrellas in a cold rain. What’s the harm in that, you ask? My kids were 4, 2, and baby and the interrupted nap times and schlepping them by myself through crowds was stressful. Now we attend one Christmas parade each year- our favorite one. The whole family looks forward to it, and it is a lovely experience.

  3. Be strategic if you do an Advent calendar/countdown. I have driven myself mad in years past trying to juggle multiple countdowns or the ones we did were so full of “activities” that I was continually caught unprepared. I solved this problem a couple years ago when I bought a gingerbread house Advent countdown on sale. It has 25 little doors just big enough to slip tiny bits of paper into. Now I use our family calendar to create these 25 activities each year. Both of my parents have birthdays in December, so two of our Advent countdowns are to FaceTime Mimi and Papa and sing happy birthday to them. Think of what you are already doing and work around that. What day are you attending a parade? Put that behind that day’s door. Are you planning to make cookies one weekend? Put that behind that day’s door. Make your countdown what you already have scheduled and sprinkle in some easy things like “put on Christmas music and have a dance party” or “color a Christmas picture” between.

  4. Schedule down time. This is the one where I’m likely to lose people but it is also my best advice. Especially in December, plan at least one night a weekend where you have no plans. Make that your family movie night. Or the night you take a walk and look at lights and decorations in your neighborhood. Whatever you do-- let it be an at home, low key night. 

  5. Never overestimate the power of cuddling on the couch and reading a book. I keep our Christmas books in the attic 11 months of the year, so when they come out, my kids are thrilled. Spending an hour on the couch snuggled together reading these books is one of my favorite Christmas memories. In fact, this morning when my son pulled “Cuddle on the couch and read Christmas books” from our gingerbread countdown, he cheered.

  6. Lay down what’s good to find what’s best. One of my favorite song lyrics is also great advice for parents in December. My church is incredibly supportive and provides wonderful resources for us during Advent. However, I have found doing 4-5 Advent countdowns, no matter how easy-- becomes overwhelming or dull. So we don’t do them all. Even if they are good. Even if they are free. I have become choosy and my family has benefited.

  7. Let go of perfect. Don’t let social media fool you. Perfect does not exist. Kids are messy and loud and unpredictable. Let go of your expectations of a perfect Christmas and prepare to cherish a real Christmas.

  8. Give yourself all the grace… and then extend that grace to your family. If you are a parent, you already know this… your kids will cry in December. They won’t always appreciate your efforts. They may rebel against the cute, matching outfits. What they want is your time, attention and love. Begin and end your day with prayer. Forgive yourself when you lose your temper. Forgive your kids when they act like crazy people. Forgive your spouse when his/her thoughts aren’t consumed with making Christmas amazing.

Hopefully you can see, all this advice stems from my own mistakes. I am praying that each of you reading this will do better than I have and remember this whole thing started with a baby in a barn. Everything else is just extra.

Lord, bring us back to the meaning of this season. Bring us back to you. Guide us to temper our expectations and put you at the center of all we do. Amen.