Michelle Hamel offers three questions moms can pray about as they begin planning holiday celebrations for their families.
As moms, we are deep in the trenches of planning for the fast-approaching holiday season.
Although I'm sure there are some exceptions, my own personal experience is that the moms of the family take on lots of extra planning and responsibility once we begin November. We moms usually add another hat to wear in mid-autumn as we become the "magic makers" of all the special celebrations and get-togethers that start to fill our calendars. Creating the special moments around Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas takes a lot of thoughtfulness and planning.
I'm not always good at being honest with myself about what I'm feeling capable of creating versus what I think I should be able to handle. I would be willing to gamble that I'm not the only mom who struggles in this area. There are so many special holiday traditions that I want to incorporate into our family time during November, December and early January. I tend to start filling every available free moment on the calendar with holiday cheer, especially searching through cookbooks to add some new holiday treats to our yearly favorites.
But before we jump into the holiday season with both feet, let's take a few minutes to pray and ask God what direction He wants our planning to take. I have to admit that this is not usually my first train of thought ... which is probably why I get stuck in the overwhelm in the first place!
Since every day is a fresh start with God, we can begin again today regardless of where we are at in our holiday planning. Even if you have to hide out in the bathroom or the laundry room, take five minutes to ask yourself a few questions and prayerfully consider:
What do you really want for your holiday season based on your family dynamics?
If you are in a family season of overwhelm with lots of little kids you need to take that into account when you want to plan "all the things." One or two special things over the course of Advent planned and executed well that create good memories is a better choice than overfull schedules every.single.weekend that leave everyone cranky, worn out, and frustrated.
What has your family been going through this year?
Have you experienced loss or are you working through trauma that is going to affect what you're capable of handling? How can you simplify things, put some traditions on hold for this year, and only focus on the traditions that are most important? Consider asking for help from a family member or close friend if it all feels like too much. Going shopping with a friend who understands what you're going through can make your list feel less burdensome. Give yourself permission to order desserts instead of baking. Do a potluck appetizer/dessert night instead of a big meal, or ask your guests to provide the side dishes and desserts.
There are some years when you just cannot do it all ... and that's OK. Usually it's our own perfectionistic expectations based on our Pinterest boards or friends' Instagram reels that drive us to give more than we are able. Some years, "good enough" has to be our focus. (And please seek professional help if you're really struggling. A good Catholic therapist can be life changing!)
What is the state of your emotional love tank?
Don't just gloss over this question with a quick "I'm fine." Be completely honest with yourself! What do you (mom) need right now? We are not meant to white-knuckle and get through everything we think we should do for the holidays while we are held together with emotional duct tape! That never, ever ends well. (I've learned this lesson the hard way and on more than one occasion, unfortunately.)
This special holiday time is a way to share and give love to the people in our life. If we try to give what we don't have, the love fades into the background and everything just becomes about surviving and checking each box on our to-do list. Even if we manage to do “all the things” we will end up feeling emptier than when we started.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. Mostly, I write all this as a reminder to myself to stay focused on what's most important to me and to my family while accepting and recognizing my own limitations as we journey closer to Christmas and into a new year. I need to accept God’s grace in each and every moment and live authentically at whatever level my heart is able to give. This is a plea to myself to let God lead and trust the path He has me on, even if (when) I’m not able to accomplish all I would like to do in the next six weeks.
I hope your journey through Advent is filled with trust, surrender, and everything you truly need.
Copyright 2023 Michelle Hamel
About the Author
Michelle is a wife, mom of eight, and grammy of 3 (with more on the way!). She spends her time reading, writing, and searching for good recipes to cook for her growing family. Her favorite things to do include spending quiet time in Adoration, shopping for baby clothes, and planning vacations. She loves to write about topics that feel God-inspired in order to encourage and comfort women. Michelle blogs at Normal Chaos.