I’ll admit that many past Christmases have been filled with my own anxiety and angst when I have unnecessarily over-anticipated, over-thought, over-spent, and over-planned. Truthfully, this Christmas started out with a plan. My son and his girlfriend were going to come home from California. My youngest daughter, who lives at home, would be going between our house and her boyfriends’ parents’ house for festivities. My daughter and her husband, who live in Tennessee, were possibly going to come home. All would be well.
Then Christmas plans changed. First, my youngest daughter wanted to spend more time with her boyfriends’ family and would be spending limited time at home. Second, my son told me he wouldn’t be home until the day after Christmas. Lastly, my daughter in Tennessee wouldn’t be coming home at all because of their work schedules.
With my heart a little sunken and my spirits and little damp, my husband and I were facing a very quiet Christmas together. I think we both felt somewhat like the breath had been snatched out of our lungs. I felt a little dazed as I realized that the position I held for so many years as a parent was in a transition phase and Christmas would be very “different” this year.
It made me reflect on life’s milestones. My years as a child with no worries, first loves, moving away from home and getting a first real job. Traveling and experiencing different parts of the country. Then love and marriage and a child. Unfortunately, a divorce and heartbreak. Then a new love, marriage and a couple more children.
Now my grown children were busily going through their own life cycles. Experiencing everything I had hoped and prayed for them. College, living in other parts of the country, marriage, love, and traveling the world. They’re living life larger than I ever experienced and that’s a dream come true as a parent. That’s what brought me joy thinking about Christmas without my kids.
I had settled my heart about our Christmas. I was at peace about spending Christmas Day at the beach, just me and my husband – the seagulls, the waves, the sun. I was okay that life brought us to this place.
Then I got a text from my son. He said he and his girlfriend would be here after all – for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! I felt elated. I started trying to set times for dinners and gift opening. Made trips to stores for gifts and food. My daughter was trying to work out times for spending with her boyfriends’ family and at home with us. It became stressful trying to work it all out.
That’s when I finally said – – – “You know what? Let’s just play it all by ear this year. Let’s not set our hearts on any one plan. Let’s just see how it goes.” The only thing I timed was when the turkey would be done on Christmas Day. Everything else could just play out as it fit into our days. It was then that my heart settled, my mind settled and I felt peace in my soul. No longer trying to control the outcome of visiting and eating and opening gifts created a much more peaceful and fun atmosphere for everyone.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were full of joy and peace! There was no anxiety. There was no angst. There were no expectations of anyone. It all just flowed beautifully into a joyous family experience. I think that may have been the lesson God wanted me to learn from the beginning – to let Christmas happen gracefully, without my own agenda trying to create an experience. That is what made it the best Christmas I’ve had in many, many years and I will continue to feel that joy for many days and weeks to come.