For the first time in the history of our family of six, we are a little ahead of schedule this year on holiday business. It was cold and rainy on Friday night, a perfect time to put up the Christmas tree. Or so I thought. It was Friday night after all, and everyone is in a good mood on Friday night, right?
A few of us were cleaning up the kitchen and a few of us were fluffing the tree and adding strings of lights to our "prelit" tree that hasn't really been prelit in years. Maybe one branch...but that's it. Anyone else do this? Don't look too closely at all those unworking bulbs!
Anywho, there was arguing over who was doing what. Which is worse, loading the dishwasher or fluffing a tree and adding lights?!?!?! Equally not fun in my opinion so I was trying my best to help everyone along, regretting in my mind not finishing one job before starting another, but I am kinda famous for having a lot of plates spinning at once.
Anywho, despite the pictures you might have seen of my kiddos laughing hysterically over one kid's "pose" it wasn't all fun and games. Prior to all the fun and laughter we had at the end, there was arguing and bossing and fussing and ignoring and rudeness in the beginning. One kiddo really was sucking the life right out of the tree trimming party. One kiddo got the "This is not how we act. This is not who we are. This is not how we treat each other. You've got to go upstairs and take a time out and come back when you are ready to have a good time and be kind" lesson from dear old Momma Bear.
I hate that. I hate disciplining. I hate sending someone away. I hate when I feel the anger rising up in me. The frustration. I hate when my dreamy expectations are not met. I hate the arguing. I hate when they aren't kind to each other. I hate stopping what I'm doing and to be "a fireman." Hosing out the fires.
It's going to happen. At some point this holiday season, those precious babies are going to cry in Santa's lap. (Buy those! Believe it or not, they're the cutest in a few years.) Some of your babies are going to hate their Christmas church clothes and throw a tantrum, someone is going to break your favorite ornament. Take your parking spot. Eat the last piece of pecan pie that you were DYING for! Your flight will be delayed. Kids will get sick for their school Christmas parties. Someone is going to act ungrateful and embarrass you. Just about anything is possible in the hustle and bustle and your expectations are not going to be met. The wind is going to be knocked right out of your sails.
You're going to feel defeated. Angry. Sad. Disappointed.
How are you going to respond? Are you going to "let your gentleness be evident to all?" like it says in Philippians 4:5 Are you going to let anger get the best of you? Are you going to say words that you'll soon regret? Or are you going to Stop and deal with what needs to be dealt with before you move forward?
Go ahead and lower your expectations a little. Life was never meant to be perfect. Give Grace. Loads of Grace. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Be quick to gently and quickly redirect, offering second chances to "get it together" but then take action and don't let one person's mood or attitude ruin the whole thing! I almost did that on Friday night. It's okay to pause. To stop even and say we'll come back to this later. Or to give yourself a quick time out or to send someone to their room for a quick timeout.
And then recover. Fully forgive. Hug. Say out loud, "I understand. I get in a bad mood sometimes too. I forgive you. I give you grace. I love you no matter what! Let's get going again and have a good time." Ask them to apologize. Be quick to apologize yourself. Teach your kids humility by being humble. Teach them to recover by recovering yourself. Teach them forgiveness by forgiving.
And then restart. Have fun! Love BIG!! Laugh your heads off and thank God for the chance to recover and Love each other. You'll have so much more Joy in the Chaos this holiday season!