Here’s a repost from 2011. The holidays are upon us again: the time of year when we are most at risk for unrealistic expectations. It’s handy to remember at this time that Jesus Christ died for sinners like us — in fact, that is the reason we celebrate.
“The real difficulty, the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, does not lie in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of Incarnation.” – JI Packer
Here we are, three days from the most hyped day of the year. Our home — like many homes across America I’m sure — is crammed with wrapped packages and sweets. The tree is decorated, the nativity scene set up, and the outside of our home glows each night with white lights. The anticipation is palpable as each morning we rehearse how many days, and this morning, how many hours, until Christmas.
As one of my friends properly observed, this week is like finals week for moms. I’ve been up until midnight every night this week so far, wrapping gifts, addressing cards, and cleaning up from yet another baking adventure. The laundry still has to be done. The house seems to get dirty faster because the kids are idle, not confined to their schoolwork.
As a result, a lot of expectations rest on the Christmas day payoff. The culmination of all this effort is confined to a few blissful hours. So it is easy, as a mom of littles, to be disappointed. I found myself frustrated a few years ago when I was exhausted and the kids started fighting on Christmas morning. Somebody didn’t like the special breakfast I made. A diaper needed to be changed right in the middle of opening gifts.
I realized that year that it’s best to keep the expectations low. Yes, it’s Christmas and yes, it’s special to celebrate with little kids. But goodness knows we are all still sinful human beings. Someone is going to cry. One of the kids will make some sort of ungrateful comment about a gift you thought they’d really like. We’re all still learning. It’s Jesus’ coming to Earth, the very reason we celebrate, that redeems all the ugliness.
So breathe through it, moms. Your high expectations will only make you and your family miserable. Enjoy and be grateful. Even though it comes just once a year, it’s just another day.