Today’s Table Talk is by sweet Dallas mom-blogger Julie Hildebrand who offers us some Christmas perspective. Thanks so much for sharing, Julie… and thanks for walking the road with me. -Kay

christmas present

We’ve barely pushed the plate away from Thanksgiving, but the Christmas season is in full swing.  Everywhere I go, I hear Christmas songs about this season being jolly, something about a silent night, dashing through some snow and laughing all the way.

Oh, and all is calm.

As a mom, am I supposed to relate to any of those songs?

‘Cause I just keep thinking of Christmas cards that need to be addressed and mailed, decorating the tree, school and office Christmas parties, buying, wrapping and sending everyone’s gifts, school Christmas programs, and anything else to make everyone else’s spirit bright – all the while my spirit is growing dimmer and dimmer.

Moms, am I the only one who thinks it’s ironic that we celebrate the Prince of Peace by heaping loads of chaos upon ourselves?

For so many moms, the Christmas season has become a big production and Mom is the producer, director, coordinator, stylist, wardrobe assistant and anything else needed to “put on Christmas”.

And we put on Christmas all in the name of creating cherished memories for our kids.   And oh ya, we celebrate Jesus.

As if the wrapping paper, gifts, garland and bows are the point of Christmas.  As if the overwhelming avalanche of things to do are the reasons for the season.

As if the point of Christmas is something other than reflecting on what Jesus did, what He’s doing and what He will do.  As if we have anything to do other than engage Jesus.   My heart knows that truth, but does my Christmas schedule, budget and to-do list reflect it?

While the Christmas season is upon us, you will catch pieces of the real Christmas story as you are running to and fro.  You’ll hear of Jesus’ birth in the manger.  Mary and Joseph.  The census.  The star that shone over Bethlehem.  The wise men.  That in Him, the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.   And that Christ is and always was God’s plan for this Earth.  Amen.

So that we may truly soak in the meaning of Christmas, I would like to suggest we mamas ruminate on an additional story before we dive into the Christmas season.  Before all the busyness sets in, let’s take a look at what Jesus thinks about all this.  While not the traditional Christmas story, I’m pretty sure it applies.

In this story, Luke 10:38-42 (NIV), Jesus has gone over to see his friends, Martha and Mary of Bethany, two sisters.  As Jesus sat in their home, Martha was busy with all the preparations commensurate with having the Son of God in her living room – no pressure.

Can you imagine?  You are entertaining Jesus in your home.  You would want to make everything just right for Him.  You would want the food to be perfect, the atmosphere to be welcoming and for Him to remember your hospitality.

Martha was doing all of that – she was busy, busy, busy.  Not only was she busy, but in verse 40, it says that “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”

Distracted.  Jesus is in her home and she is distracted.

Her sister, Mary, however, took a different approach as Jesus visited their home.

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to what He said.

At his feet listening.  Jesus is in her home and she is at his feet listening.

But there’s more to the story. Busy Martha notices her sister just sitting there and says to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”

To that Jesus answers, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I don’t want to prepare for Christmas in a way that leaves Jesus saying, “Julie, Julie, you are worried and upset about many things….”.  Ouch, try putting your name in that sentence.  It hurts.

It hurts because in our hearts we know that Jesus isn’t impressed with our creative wrapping or our spiffy lawn ornaments.  He doesn’t care if our family looks picture perfect in our Christmas cards (He knows the truth, anyway).  He doesn’t love us more because we do more.  He just loves us.  He loves us so dearly and He wants to connect with us – that’s why He came here in the first place.

So if I edit down my Christmas to-do list, skip some details, miss a few parties and cut my spending budget will that make Christmas less special for the kids?

Ever so ironically, our kids aren’t impressed with our creative wrapping, spiffy lawn ornaments or picture perfect Christmas cards (they also know the truth).  Our kids don’t love us because we do more – especially if it means we’re absent or distracted.  They just love us.  They love us so dearly and they want to connect with us.

This Christmas season, try being a participant in the party honoring our Savior rather than being distracted by all the details required to pull off a big production for your kids.

Just as Mary of Bethany chose what was better, you and I can choose a better Christmas our ourselves and our families.

Before the hustle and bustle takes over the season, here are a few things to consider:

— What stressed you out the most last year and how can things be different this year?

— What are your motives behind each item on your to-do list?  (Are you afraid of disappointing someone or not “measuring up”?)

— What can you say “no” to?

— Does this activity honor and celebrate Jesus?

Moms, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and let the noise of Christmas fall away.  My family will still celebrate, decorate and serve others, but we will cut away clutter that distracts us from welcoming Jesus into our celebration. Into our home. Into our hearts.

Dearest Readers, I’d love to hear from you.  What are some things you are going to cut out to make time for Jesus this Christmas season?  How are you going tone down the Martha and amp up the Mary of Bethany?

Julie Hildebrand is a member of the Dallas Morning News Briefing Moms Panel. She is a stay-at-home mother of three children, ages 7, 5 and 3. She graduated from Southern Methodist University and worked in national public relations before having children. Her small-town upbringing provides a calming backdrop to her sometimes hectic life in Big D. She enjoys exercising, reading, public speaking, friends and being chief operating officer of the Hildebrand household.

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