I was probably a few years into being a mom when I first realized it: the change that had come to my Christmas.
I’ve always loved Christmas. Loved the lights on the tree, the beautiful songs, candlelight, gifts, snow and cookies and surprises and glitter and just … the whole shebang. Nearly every year, we made the trek over the river and through the woods (well, I think there might have been a river, anyway) to both of my grandmothers’ houses, heading to Christmas Eve services where every year I cried my way through at least the last three verses of Silent Night as the flame and scent of drippy wax being passed from candle to candle slowly made its way down each pew, finally to the one clutched tightly in my own little hands, and I wondered at both the glory of holding my own burning flame and the sheer beauty of the story of Jesus’ coming, each sinking deep into my childish heart. We’d trek the few blocks home then, boots crunching through snow, walking carefully to make the flame last as long as we could, not willing to let the flame go away.
The next day at my other grandparents’ house, snowy footprints across the carpet announced Santa’s surreptitious visit, and presents piled under the tree were gleefully unwrapped much too quickly, I’m sure. It took at least the whole day to work our way through playtime with each gift, and then we’d sit down to a table glittering with china and snowy napkins and piles of food.
All in all, it was a wonder; just how Christmas should be, to my childish mind.
Then came my own children, stockings lining up every year like we lived in Who-ville or something. And Christmas? Well, it was different, somehow.
Christmas used to be something that happened to me.
Now, it was something I needed to make happen … or happen, it would not.
The beautiful lady on the donkey, heavy with Child? Probably should have been a tip-off.
The pretty tree? Yummy food? Candles burning bright? Hand crafted decorations? They didn’t just appear out of nowhere, some Christmas miracle. No, if Christmas was to come, it would come because I worked to make it come.
For the wonder and beauty to come to our homes, a mama must carry the weight of Christmas.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”
My husband doesn’t spend November-December in a dither over how to get gifts to the cousins in Texas. He doesn’t labor over whether we should decorate in red or gold, or try to figure out which stationery to use for the Christmas cards, and most likely, your husband doesn’t, either. No, those are things we, the mamas, will ponder this season, an unseen army bringing Christmas again, these multiplied centuries after Mary first carried her precious Burden over the rough roads to Bethlehem.
The cinnamon rolls, the delightful tree, the Advent stories read and loved, the very memories your children carry into their own adulthood? You.
You are the bearer of your family’s Christmas, sweet mama. And you’re in good company.
So rejoice! You’re not alone, you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last. Embrace the gift of being the bringer of Christmas in your own precious home.
The truth is, when we embrace this season as a glorious weight, but reject it as an oppressive burden, we can lay down the heaviness of it and pick up the glory. Your children won’t remember how perfectly decorated your tree was, and they won’t recall which stationery you finally picked out. They will remember the wonder, the joy, the beauty of it all. And when the weight falls heavy, remember the point–Jesus has come! This is a celebration for you to share and enjoy, a season of remembering all He has done. If you’ve picked up the weight of comparing your Christmas to someone else’s, if you’re worrying over your child’s long list of wants and your short list of wrapped gifts, if the cinnamon rolls came from the bakery instead of the oven … let it go!
Glory in the beauty and enjoy every moment as the gift it is. And if I see you in the store, balancing cranky babies and a twenty-pound turkey, I’ll smile and you’ll see it in my eyes: Carry on, fellow Christmas-bearer!
In what ways do you find the weight of Christmas heavy? How can you lay the burden of it all down this year?