I wasn’t going to write this post about the possibility of a joyless holiday. I had the draft ready and prepped to start but it soon found the trash. Christmas had come and gone and we were full steam ahead into 2018. Would it even matter at this point to share? But at the end of last week, when three people in a 48 hour span all tell you how Christmas kind of sucked, you dig it out of the bin and share it. That’s what we do. We share the vulnerable pieces of life too.

A joyless holiday…

Moms are good at making holidays happen for their families. Dads are too but let’s be honest, most of the work falls on moms. From the baking, to the buying, to the decorating, to the pictures, to the travel schedule, to the making sure everyone else feels like the holidays are magical – it can be stressful. It also can be joyful. It also can be joyless. Sometimes it has to do with our choices. Could we pare back that long list of things we feel we have to do? Yes, we can let something go. (Trust me sister, you CAN let something go!) Can we choose to seek joy in the long list? Yes, if we are going to make our lists long then we can make it joyful! Often we really have a choice. But sometimes, just sometimes…

We just don’t feel it.

I had every intention this year to really dig in with my kids and teach them the reason for the season. To talk about Jesus and work with our Giving Manger so we are all doing and recognizing good deeds for each other. I had our Christmas daily devotional out. We planned to attend as much church as we could. I thought the gift list was short and reasonable. The kids joyfully helped decorate the tree. I splurged on a few new decorations. I truly thought, this was going to be a great holiday season.

But it wasn’t.

The Giving Manger got pushed aside and Baby Jesus didn’t even have a full manger of straw to be laid on. He was only taken out a couple days after Christmas to simply be put back in the box until next year. Sorry, Baby Jesus. The daily devotional was never opened. I think that even went back into storage before Christmas got here – a lost cause for sure. The travel calendar was more full than we typically liked, not allowing our little family of four to have an evening to ourselves. The short and reasonable gift lists? Ha! My husband and I sat on the couch Christmas night after the kids were in bed and stared at the piles of stuff. Most of it was our own fault. We went overboard – something we typically try not to do. Our kids are blessed with so many people in their lives who love on them this time of year that if Santa brings only a toothbrush, that should be ok! This mom lost her Amazon Prime mind this year…

Yes, I felt joyless.

And rather than trying to give myself a positive pep talk, pointing out all the things we need to be grateful for, I chose to give myself grace. I chose to let myself feel joyless. To accept that this year was simply an off year. That sometimes no matter how hard we prep and plan and primp – we simply can’t perfect it all. That it is ok if the devotionals were left untouched or the lists got too long. Because there was so much good to be thankful for even when it’s not fully magical. And through it all, there are lessons learned for the next time and we simply pray there is a next time.


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