Somewhere on the continuum between the most picture perfect Instagram image of a holiday home and Uncle Eddie’s dilapidated RV rolling up at the last-minute in Christmas Vacation lies my current status in preparing for and enjoying this holiday season. I’m half channeling my inner Martha Stewart and half holding it together with dirty pony tails and scotch tape. #truth. In years past regardless of how hard I tried I have always ended up exhausted, feeling depleted and as if the entire holiday season flew by at lightning speed. Sure our smiling faces and planned outfits may look beautiful on social media but had any of us really experienced the joy of the season or did we all just check a million boxes and “survive”? I fear the later has more likely been the case.
I set out this year on a mission to do it better, to enjoy it more and to be the boss of this whole holiday thing. So I did what we all do. I read all of the articles that popped up on social media about planning, prepping and organizing for a joyous holiday. I pinned about a million holiday pins on Pinterest and I made a promise to myself to enjoy the little things this season. Yet here I am on only the third day of Advent with an empty Advent calendar (ours is a beautiful house that has little boxes for each day to open,) at least four different lists of to-do’s, more lists about other lists and two, yes, two pairs of girls glitter shoes to return to Target because I still can’t get my daughter’s Christmas outfit planned and ready like every article has advised I do now to prevent stress later. What gives and why don’t these shoes fit? ugh.
Only a day or so into this season of preparation I was starting to think I may not be able to be the boss of this whole holiday thing after all. While I would continue on at full speed to make it as wonderful as possible for my family in my heart I was already beginning to feel depleted and defeated. With how little I am “winning” at this holiday thing clearly I am not the ideal author to share the magic recipe for joy this holiday season. What I can do however is share a message I heard recently that changed my perspective on all it and I hope will for you too. Sometimes the most obvious, simple messages that have been right in front of us all along are the ones we have missed and needed most.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attended a speaking event featuring Nadia Bolz-Weber at Christ Church Cathedral here in Cincinnati and during her presentation I jotted down a few simple yet powerful thoughts that put all of my self-imposed, perfectionist holiday stress into perspective. Forgive me Nadia as these are my simplified notes of words you shared much more powerfully.
Humans have a great propensity to [mess] things up
Grace is the only thing that can transform the human heart
We are addicted to poison [alcohol, drugs, shopping, social media] things and control
God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves and that is grace
It was like a ton of bricks both landed on me and somehow were lifted from me at all once. All the articles, recipes, list or pins in the world will never change the way I enjoy or don’t enjoy the holiday season or any season for that matter but grace will. Grace will. Dang it. It was so obvious, so right in front of me but so lost on me. So while I will still use my lists and still work to figure out my daughter’s outfit in advance I will do it with these words in my head.
I will mess things up
I will forgive myself and others
I will rejoice in grace this holiday season
Regardless of your religion or faith I hope that you too will remember to give yourself and others some grace this holiday season. Whether it is by sharing this post, extending a hand to others or simply forgiving yourself and knowing you are doing the best you can I hope you too will embrace grace this holiday season because it really is the one thing we can do not for ourselves.