I remember sitting in my car in a Walmart parking lot, in tears after a phone call. It was Christmas, kettles were in full swing, and my husband and I were being pulled in eight different directions, dragging our kids with us. The phone call was a request for one more thing, on a night when we were already overcommitted and missing our son’s taekwondo graduation. My answer: “I can’t do it.” The response: not super nice.

Christmas is one of the most important times in our year. We are celebrating the birth of our Saviour. A humble, sweet babe who was born to save me—someone who makes poor decisions, fails often and yells at her kids and husband. If this is true, then why on earth am I running around like a crazy person, feeling an immense amount of shame because I couldn’t do “one more thing,” and hustling to prove something that God already tells me is true?

I am worthy. You are worthy. We do not need to buy all the things, cook a gourmet meal or lead the perfect Christmas Eve service to prove our worth. But we do this at Christmas, don’t we? And even worse, we pass this behaviour on to the next generation. What are we showing them about what Christmas really means?

That phone call has changed every Christmas since then. I am so glad that a moment meant to make me feel small taught me just how big my God is and helped me understand this—that the only gift I need to give, the only gift my kids need to receive from me at Christmas, is me. A joy-filled, hopegiving, deep-loving mommy who is present and passing the love, joy, peace and hope of Christmas on to them. Here are some of the changes we’ve made in how we approach Christmas:

  1. We say “no” more than at any other time of year. There will always be busy seasons but that doesn’t mean we need to be busier. Did you get that? If you need to do more of something at Christmas, then do less somewhere else.
  2. We keep Christ at the centre of Christmas. I know that sounds cliché, but if you take a hard look at how you spend your time, you might be surprised at what you find. If the event, task or tradition doesn’t keep Christ at the centre of it all, refer back to point one.
  3. We give two types of gifts: the gift of not having to give a gift and the gift of presence. My sister and I decided a long time ago to give each other the best present possible—not having to buy something for each other. Guess what? It’s the best gift I receive every year. Don’t want to give up gifts? Try the gift of presence. I know it’s not as exciting to unwrap on Christmas morning, but my kids love adventure and experiences—tickets to a movie, a trip to the ice rink or an ice cream run—a million times more than a toy that will last five months and be secretly thrown out by mom (shhhh).
  4. Be as humble as a king in a barn. Adjust your expectations of others. Be OK with receiving a “no.” Don’t expect a big gift. Don’t look for the perfect dinner. Pour out grace upon grace and be the one who keeps Christ at the centre. Always.

I’d be silly to think these changes are easy. Some of us are buried so deep in the frantic rush of Christmas that it’s going to take a while to get out. Here’s the thing: buy your kids gifts (but stop trying to keep up with the Joneses), have your parties and concerts. Do the Christmas things and have fun! But like everything in life, be aware of what you are teaching your kids. Jesus came at Christmastime to save us, so we can share his love and go to taekwondo graduations, not so we overcommit and hustle harder. Give your kids the gift of an undercommitted, Christ-centred, humble Christmas. It will be the best gift they ever receive.

Captain Bhreagh Rowe is the community ministries officer, St. Albert Church and Community Centre, Alta.

Photo: Kaspars Grinvalds/stock.Adobe.com

This story is from:


On Friday, December 3, 2021, Dianne dentremont said:

Wow this is awesome we love Christmas but it certainly can be overwhelming. Great info to practice

Leave a Comment