A Little Bit of Cheer

Does your stress level go up, like mine do, as the holidays draw near?

The holidays are about family, friends, connecting and joy. We all know the “joy” part can sometimes be the most difficult part to find with traffic, and crowds at the mall, and all the various activities and places we have to be during this time of year. It can be a bit of a bummer, can’t it?

As I vow to be present and find joy each day through the holiday season I’ve had to implement a few tools: taking a moment each day to remember while the holiday season is busy, it’s temporary (I can handle things much better when I know they’re temporary); that my children’s excitement is infectious–there is a innocence and delight about it that I haven’t experienced since my own childhood and am encouraged to know it still exists; and that the number of holidays my husband and I will spend with our children is limited. They’ll eventually have these holidays with their own families. I want a flood of joyful memories to look back upon.

I’m taking each day as it comes, and experiencing a little bit of holiday cheer. Those moments are like magic–joy in the truest sense.

How are you experiencing joy this holiday season?

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

We are reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, a humorous tale of how a traditional church pageant gets overtaken by an untraditional cast of characters–the Herdman family. We got the book so our oldest son could continue practicing his reading skills. The book is just about right for his age as it challenges him from a reading prospective (wouldn’t names like Genesis and Jerusalem challenge most eight year olds?), and from a content prospective–the Herdman’s raise some very good questions about the Christmas story from a child’s naivety about this old story but with a great understanding of the present world as illustrated in one of Imogene’s passages after finding out that the baby Jesus was swaddled and laid in a manger: “You mean they tied him up and put him in a feedbox. Where was the Child Welfare?”

The Herdman children’s questions about the Christmas story have been a good opportunity for my sons and I to talk about the story, what is happening and what it means. Up to this point, my sons have participated in our church’s Christmas Pageant without really understanding the story. They know there are angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. Dressing up in the costumes is fun. But their experience in the pageant has been one of participation, not appreciation.

This year when a teacher was asking the kids who might want to play Mary in the Christmas Pageant the room was silent for a moment, than my youngest son who recently turned six stated loudly, “I’ll be Mary.” To which the teacher replied, “You want to be Mary?” and looked at me with a quizzical face. I asked my son, “You want to be Mary?” to which he replied, “Yes. I want to be Mary.” I looked back at the teacher and gave her my permission. I’m not sure how comfortable everyone was with my son’s decision (mainly the adults in the room, the children seemed to care less), but I felt if my son wanted to play Mary, by gosh, I was going to let him.

I don’t know what the Christmas Pageant holds for us this year, but it looks like it might be an untraditional one. When roles are changed and things are done out of the ordinary or expected, our own beliefs for how things are, or should be done can be challenged. It’s like the story The Best Christmas Pageant Ever–will the Christmas story be ruined by the Herdman’s being in the play? No. Their participation ended up making it the best pageant ever. Similarly, will our church’s play be ruined if my son plays Mary? No. It will make the play more memorable, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.

How do you encourage or support your child to do something out of the ordinary?