Decorating happened (referring to pictures, so I'd know where to put everything the same as last year):
Advent calendars and letters to Santa and Christmas cookies and work parties and ward parties and school parties and gingerbread houses and fancy Sunday clothes:
We did the usual lunch (at a burger place) and a movie, Bethlehem dinner and pajamas with the Daines.
It was a great Christmas morning/day, where we just opened and watched and slept and ate and jogged. And Levi carried around this 2 pack of starburst for about 4 hours.
But it was also just a little bit better and this is why:
The day after Thanksgiving, we were driving home from the Christmas light parade in Coeur d'Alene and I started to feel dread about the upcoming month. I hadn't started shopping for presents and I know how much work the season is for the mother of a family of 8. I hated that I was dreading it and I started to think it through.
I realized that I was dreading it simply because I thought I was supposed to. Like all of the other things I listed, it was a tradition for me to get stressed and worried about all the stuff. But as I actually thought about it, I couldn't figure out why I was so sick about it. Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do in my life in general:
1. Cook and bake and put together meals
2. Shop with a good excuse
3. Go on outings with my kids
4. Faith filled, Christ-centered thinking
5. Hand out with friends and family
Um...that's pretty much my entire Christmas To-Do list. I truly enjoy those things and December is filled with them. I decided to re-frame my way of looking at the month...I was doing the things I loved! I wanted to be busy with the things I loved! I love doing Christmas!
It worked. I had such a better attitude (or re-adjusted it when the old attitude crept in) and it was so much more fun. It really is kind of amazing what your mind and your outlook can do!
In order to complete my Young Women's Personal Progress Faith Project, I made a goal to memorize the Living Christ by Christmas Eve. I spent the entire month muttering to myself over and over about the life and mission of the Savior. It reminded me who He was, what He did, why He did it and made me want to celebrate Him and emulate Him just a little bit more. It brought a whole spiritual dimension that enriched the season immeasurably. I asked the Daines if I could recite it at our dinner (so I'd have a clear check-off point) and I did it and was very weepy throughout. I know those words are true. I know the Son of God was born in Bethlehem, performed miracles, atoned for our sins, was resurrected and has since restored his Gospel and Priesthood to this earth. I am never happier than when I am remembering and acting like Him.
And that's why doing things a little bit differently, made Christmas a whole lot better.