Here's what Christmas day looks like around here when I'm hosting the family meal:
We rise early to open presents. My husband and I sip coffee while the kids tear open packages and play with new toys. We have breakfast, play with the kids and their new toys, and start some laundry. I stuff the turkey and put it in the oven, make lunch, clean up the house, set the table, take a bath, dress the children, brush their hair and prepare the rest of the dinner meal. Our guests arrive, we visit, eat, open gifts and then cleanup. We put the kids to bed and play some board games with our visitors, then see our guests out the door. There is some more cleaning. We talk about our day and unwind a little, and then collapse contentedly into bed. All within less than 24 hours.
I imagine your Christmas day is quite different but also very much the same. You accomplish a lot. Not only are we able to cook up a storm and clean our homes, we have time to visit with guests and play with our children? How is this so? How do we cram so much into one day and consider it a "day off?"
How can I have that kind of time every day?
Here are some things that many of us do to make Christmas day run smoothly, and I know that I would do well to apply these things better to my every day.
1. Planning. Not many of us went to bed on Christmas eve without a plan for the next days dinner. When most of us went to bed on Christmas eve, we knew what we needed to do the next day, where we needed to go and at what time and what we need to take with us. We probably even knew what the whole family was going to wear and what's for breakfast. This kind of planning would only take a few minutes on a regular evening and can make the next day run so much smoother.
2.Tradition. Tradition is a sentimental way to say routine. Christmas day has a cadence to it, a rhythm, a series of events that happen in a certain order even if the schedule itself is casual. When an ordinary day has a rhythm to it, all the members of the family know what they should be doing and what will happen next. For a mother at home with young children, a daily rhythm might be a very flexible set of activities in a specific order, and based around feeding times and babies whims For other families it will revolve around more specific times in which things need to happen. The point is that when we have a family routine that works, we can spend our days flowing reasonably painlessly from each task and activity to the next instead of feeling like we are dragging our family through a chaotic and unattainable to-do list.
3.Grace. If only I could extend the grace to my family every day that I do on Christmas. It would change everything. On christmas day I can see that my kids are tired, excited, and a little over-loaded on sugar. I don't let them get away with whatever they want, but I also don't expect more of them than they can handle. I see them as the precious little gifts they are, and I smile at them when they ask me to play with them. If I could do just that one thing every day through the whole year, wow....I want to be that mom. Don't you?
Not every day can be a holiday. But Christmas day has reminded me of something that I already knew: that some planning, some routine,and a whole lot of grace can be the difference between a sobbing heap of exhausted mommy and a calm and gentle mother ready to sit on the floor and play barrel of monkeys for just a minute or two.
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