Real Christmas Heroes

How excited would we be if we were tasked with providing an amazing, memorable, magical Christmas to a family? A family in need of a little magic. How honored we might feel to be called upon, chosen.

If we saw a video on facebook that laid out, to a sympathetic track of music of course, as a photo slide show of the compelling circumstances and sweet photos of a nice man and his children played, we would be moved. If we watched as the stories of their challenges and struggles from the previous year were retold - the stress, the strain, the sorrows- our hearts would be filled with compassion. 

We would instinctively think about how his kids were growing up, clocks ticking and all and how few opportunities he has left to spend this time with them before life marches past. We'd be reminded about how hard he works to provide for them and how much he misses everyday just to be able to give them the basics. We'd sit at our table, moved to tears. 

We would accept the challenge and determine that he and his children were going to have the best Christmas. We'd be so happy to be the elf, the Santa, or more importantly the hands and feet of Christ to that family. We would pull out all the stops, we'd use every resource we have. We would stay up late to bake and cook, shop and plan and we'd gift that family with an amazing Christmas season they will never forget.

So why, is it that sometimes we lose the heart to do that for our own needy family? The ones who live in our home, under our roof, whose care has been assigned to us alone? Why are we so "over" creating those memories for our own husbands and children? 

Maybe it's the monotony of having done it so many times. Maybe there isn't a spirit of gratitude in our home anymore? Maybe we just lost our way? Perhaps we are too busy to sit down and think about the year they've really had and play their emotional movie in our own minds. Because we could make one couldn't we? We could all make one. Our kids faced challenges all year. Disappointments, wounds and failures were mingled with their ups. Our husbands managed all kinds of stress during the year and probably some we never even knew about. The year is winding down, so how will it be remembered? How will the next year begin?

Every Family Needs a Hero

We have a story too of course. Whether we work or not, we all faced down many mountains to make it to the end of the year with our sanity mostly intact. Health issues, anxiety, worry about our families, a mother's heart is where worry comes to rest. So in a family where everyone is feeling a tad overwhelmed who will step up and make something beautiful out of it all, at the end? We will. Moms will take the scraps and create something they can all hold onto. We must. Because every family needs a hero and when it comes to milestones, memories and holidays let's face it, no one else is better equipped, not really, than Mom.

Reject the Snarky Mommy

I could write and record a snarky, overwhelmed mom video if I wanted. I could rant and joke about the holidays -  all the work, the expectations. What would it serve? A cheap laugh? Okay. Sometimes a cheap laugh is better than none, sure. But if I'm being honest I could admit the snark is nothing more than a thin veil, shielding me from the guilt that is trying desperately to tell me that I have lost my joy and the desire to serve my family with a joyful heart. I've heard the analogy so many times about how mother's must put on their oxygen masks first so they can save their children. Mother's must care for themselves to be able to care for others. It's true. So too it is true with the Way of Joy. You cannot bring joy to your family if you have none in your heart to share. The half hearted, resentful, snarky mommy will shine through. And here is the worst part, no one will see it as clearly or be pained by it as much as you will. It will push in at the corners of your mind. You were made for joy. You were made to bring that joy to your family. A family needs a hero and a hero needs her joy.

Does It Really Matter?

Reject the snarky mommy trend, it doesn't really make you feel better. Find your joy and be the hero your family needs. For all the assurances you will be given about how nothing matters. I suggest to you it does matter. Do the children remember exactly the cookie, or the gift, or the decoration from a specific year, probably not. What they do remember is the feeling, the environment, the tone that was created in their home throughout their childhood. It's how you craft a family. They remember what is built and built upon every year. You will know they remember because it will show through in their spirit.

Consider this, it's your birthday. Your husband says last minute in the evening while he sits on the couch in his work clothes, "It's your birthday, don't cook, let's get McDonalds." Nice enough. He remembered, no cooking, ok, it's something. But if he planned a special dinner, booked a babysitter, dressed up, smelled nice and lovingly and excitedly took you out, it's a very different experience. The point is, effort matters. Effort matters when it's offered to us (or when it's not) and it matters when we offer it to our families. Thought, planning, love shine through when we try harder. Those efforts over the course of your child's life matters.

This Isn't Spoiling

Efforts and thought need not be expensive and moms would do well to wrap one gift for their husbands and children this year that would mean more than any other. THEIR TIME. Baking cookies in your pajamas and listening to Christmas music doesn't cost a thing. It doesn't have to be hard either. 

Buy a premade mix, add an egg and a couple tablespoons of water. Let them help you wrap presents. Sure it will take longer. And? Let them help you, really help you shop for others. Let them help with Christmas cards. Let them light the Advent candles. Read Christmas stories every night. Go to church, often. Watch movies together in mom and dad's big bed, make it a Christmas Slumber Party with hot chocolate. You don't have to take them to Disney World for Christmas or buy them every electronic gadget at Best Buy. Don't spoil them, that's counter-productive. But pour yourself into loving them and making special moments and memories with lots of time. Spend carefree timelessness with them. Make an effort, plan.

Imagine, if you must that your family's story was a Youtube video this year and your husband and your kids were asking for some Mom with a lot of joy, who has a little time and imagination to be their hero and help them have a magical Christmas. Then do it. There is still time.