The Martha perfect Christmas takes on a Whole New Mary

I am a woman about tradition. I love traditions. I come by it honestly – with a southern family – tradition runs deep through my veins. At Christmas time – I can get a little out of control with my traditions and create expectations of myself that are completely unnecessary. At least, that’s what I learned at Thanksgiving.

With their dorm room settled and comfortable, routines established and beds neatly made, I wasn’t sure Mark and Tim would want to come back home for Thanksgiving weekend. In fact, when they moved to campus in the fall, they turned their room into a “music studio” because they said they had no need for beds at home any longer. Much to my surprise, they decided to come home for the long weekend. I have to admit; I was jumping with joy on the inside, but tried to maintain my cool on the outside.

You might believe that I see my boys quite often; since I work in the place they live and breathe. However, they have busy lives on campus. Busy lives that include new friends, challenging course work, late night runs for coffee and practical jokes. Much like your own children, I am pretty certain.

Typically, during the Thanksgiving weekend, we create the family calendar for the Christmas season. You see, I am married to a pastor, which means we have activities that we must attend, activities that we’d like to attend, and activities that we wish we could attend. And the calendar is full. I wanted to be careful about my own expectations of the college sons' participation in the “traditions” that we have created over the years. Though they live in the same town, they have their own lives.

Traditions include St. Nicholas Day and the arrival of presents in their wooden shoes, hunting for the perfect Christmas tree, lights on the house, musical performances, baking and the annual open house, church services, going to look at Christmas lights, gift exchanges and family events with grandparents, aunt, uncles and the cousins – and of course, the annual cousin sleepover at our house. Someone reminded me recently, “Why can’t Christmas just be about Jesus?”

That personal challenge has caused me to take a step back. Do I really need to maintain a frenzied holiday season, in order to call it Christmas? If you took a look at my schedule, and the precision with which I approach the Advent Season – you would think so. Not this year because of what happened Thanksgiving weekend.

The treasured moments from the weekend included: 1)taking a breather from the Black Friday shopping to sit and watch people at 2am with my three sons and two college friends, 2)making great nachos together in the kitchen to watch a football game, with my three sons, 3)finding the perfect jacket and shirt at the thrift store, where it’s Black Friday – every day – with 2 of my sons, and 4)waking up one of my sons from an afternoon nap to make sure he had time to get his homework done. You see, the treasured moments are times with family – relationship.

I believe Christmas is about Jesus. And I believe if Jesus had skin on today, and walked around my neighborhood and your neighborhood – he would spend time with the ones he loved. He wouldn’t bake until 3am, unless he did it with somebody. He wouldn’t hang up Christmas lights on the house, unless he could do that with someone. And I do think he would go to the thrift store, to find that perfect jacket – but only if he took friends with him.

Luke 10 verses 40- 43 says, “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

So this year, the tradition is about time with the people I love – even if that means less baking and more listening, less calendar planning, and more spontaneous meals prepared together with what we have on hand. I am still a woman about tradition….with a little less Martha and a little more Mary.

Have a blessed Christmas season,
Nancy Almquist
Director of Parent Relations