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Have you ever had a bummer Christmas?

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We sure did. As a newly married couple, Grace and I were so busy working our long hour jobs and serving students in college ministry that we forgot to plan for Christmas. Also, Grace’s family whom we normally spent Christmas with had left a day early on their family trip.

Exhausted, overwhelmed, and distracted, Grace and I got home late on the night of Christmas Eve. We both wrongly assumed that the other person would have made awesome Christmas plans…and we were both wrong.

We had no decorations up. We had no Christmas tree. There was literally no evidence of any kind that it was Christmas. If our home was a forensic crime scene we could not have been charged with celebrating Christmas in any way.

As we stood in the living room still wearing our coats, it dawned on Grace how pathetic things were. So, she tried to put a few bows on an angel wing begonia plant, that I literally hated, in an effort to make it look festive. The plant hung out from the wall and every time I walked by it I got tangled up in it. It was like having an eternal cob web in my living room. Now dressed up with red plaid bows, the thing just looked pathetic. It had been transformed from a plant I hated to a plant I hated with red bows, which did not make me love it.

So, we decided to at least try and salvage the night with dinner together. Unfortunately, the restaurants near our home were all closed! After having no luck finding dinner out, we went home to eat as an act of surrender. We quickly discovered that the college kids had eaten us out of house and home, and we had not had time to grocery shop. So, we sat down and ate pancakes since it was the only food left in the house.

There we sat, my best friend and cute young wife and I, eating pancakes late at night bemoaning our bummer Christmas. I don’t even really like pancakes, truth be told.

Over the years, things have gotten a lot better since our bummer Christmas. Adding five kids sure made the holiday season a lot of fun. Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror and Christmas is coming fast, I would urge you to make a plan. Without a plan, you end up with a bummer Christmas.

The Christmas season can be a busy one. Work parties, family get togethers, school activities, church events, and more can quickly eat up the Christmas season. In addition, getting all your work done at home and/or on the job so you can take some days off means that time is a precious and fleeting commodity. Throw in hosting Christmas at your home for a large group, or travelling out of town, means the holidays can be downright overwhelming and exhausting.

Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way to get the calendar organized by figuring out when we go out do do various things. The key when kids are little is to do things that are age appropriate and have them speak into what is planned. I always like to find all the holiday events in December, and meet with the kids to see what they want to do. For example, when the kids were little we would get hot chocolate and listen to Christmas music while driving around to look at Christmas lights. With my girls, I take them out individually for a nice daddy date with dinner, a play, or other activity that sounds fun for them. Grace likes to take the girls out to high tea while I do something fun with the boys – often heading up to the mountains to inner tube in the snow. Now that the kids are getting bigger, our activities change a bit but we always keep some traditions, such as a birthday cake for Jesus and recording all the old school Christmas shows to watch as a family.

Whatever you do, I would encourage you to research some fun things, talk with the family/friends you plan on spending the holidays with, and make a plan. Otherwise, you could end up eating pancakes with a bowed begonia having yourself a bummer Christmas.

Pastor Mark