Today on More Than Small Talk #podcast, we talked about a hustle-less holiday. I shared that not allowing a tradition to become a must-do is key and releasing perfect pictures to embrace imperfect moments. This is the blog post I shared in the podcast. Let’s release the pressure from a specific day to embrace the people we love. ~ Suzie

52 texts.

The first text looked something like this:

Hey kiddos, when do you want to get together for Christmas? 

And then it began. One of our children proposed a date, and another said it wouldn’t work. Someone else thought a date might be open, only to realize that it was already filled. We kept working at it, until we realized that maybe this was the first year that we wouldn’t be able to do Christmas together.

Did that make me sad?

It didn’t.

Because a long time ago, I made myself a promise — that Christmas wouldn’t be limited to a specific day, or a specific way of doing things. That I would be flexible. That we’d have fun, no matter what day we got together.

I made this promise as a young mom — when I was hauling little kids out of bed and into the car. When I longed for Christmas morning to be with my children, all of us in our pajamas after a big breakfast of French toast.

Though some were more flexible than others, it seemed like there was always at least one person disappointed (or outright mad) because we weren’t where they wanted us to be.

It’s not that there weren’t good memories. There were. Yet, in those early years, we were often a source of disappointment. Richard and I were the first to be married on either side. We were the first to have children. And in those early Christmas years, we were often the ones “messing up” the way things had always been.

One day I realized that I no longer loved Christmas.

As a believer, this weighed heavy. How could I share the joy of Christ with my young family when I wrestled with resentment, uncertainty, angst?

One year cancer gave us an incredible gift.

I got sick at the ripe age of 31. That Christmas I was going through chemotherapy. Radiation was next. My children were young, and all I wanted was to watch them grow up. That Christmas no one said a word about expectations.

I’d see a flash when I laid down for a nap, my body tired from the toxins in my veins. I knew what they were doing. This might be our last Christmas together. They were taking pictures of us all together. They were treasuring the gift of now.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18 (ESV)

It’s been years since that hard Christmas (and yet such a good one). My children are grown, and now that they are, I want to remember the promise I made.

I want Christmas to be about Christ — not me. Not my wishes. Not my traditions, or how I think things should be.

While I have no control over anyone’s schedule but my own, I do have the option of bringing peace into this season. I desire that my children know that mom is flexible. That if it takes 52 texts for us to figure this out (and we eventually did), that I’m okay with that.

You see, my children weren’t created to fill the need of Christmas in my heart. They aren’t supposed to juggle and finagle and worry about who is mad at who. Most of all, I long that when they see me, they’ll see that while I love them with all my heart, Christmas isn’t about a day. It’s about Jesus.

Lord, let my children see you in me. In every day, but especially in this season of celebrating you. 

There’s a hidden treasure in this, one I didn’t realize. Because it’s pressure-free, they work really hard to be with us.

Maybe it’s not on Christmas day, or maybe it is.

Maybe it’s unconventional and Richard and I hike on Christmas morning, while they have sweet family time, or they are with the other side of the family. Yet when we gather (and it’s wild and wooly with 6 littles), my prayer is that they will fall in love with Christmas and all that it means.

If you are on the other side of someone’s anger or disappointment this Christmas, I’m reaching with a huge embrace. I pray his peace wraps around your tender heart, and you see how beautiful you are to him.

If you are the one struggling to hold on to what “once was,” would you consider releasing that to discover the new in this season? You might be surprised at what you gain when you do.


Q: Traditions are important, but people are more important. What is one way you can be more flexible this Christmas?

Q: Read Romans 12:18 — How can you bring peace into your current situation (as far as it depends on you)?

The term “double bind” means that there’s no winning choice. Maybe you feel that right now.  How can we pray with you today as you approach Christmas?

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