12.15.2013

The Pressure of Christmas

Before Pinterest and blogs, was there this much pressure to create the perfect Christmas? To decorate every bare space, to craft your own everything, to bake up a storm, to hunt for the perfect gifts, to move the elf or fill the advent calendar every day? I guess the pressure was always there.


What if we said no to it? What if we didn't perform this Christmas? What if we were motivated by joy and inspiration instead of guilt and obligation? What if we embrace Christmas for what it brings instead of what we bring to it this year? What would that look like?


Some of you are so inspired this time of year that you can't help but overflow with creativity, generosity and abundance. Not out of a desire to be perfect, but in response to the joy and delight you feel when you create, decorate, bake or find that "just right" gift. I rejoice in the life this season brings forth in you.



But for some of us, all of that just feels inauthentic this year. And that's okay. Every bit as okay as the friend who appears to be going overboard, but who's motivated by pure joy, not perfection and performance.



Let's do ourselves a favor and stop comparing our Christmas with someone else's...be it their abundant Christmas or their simple Christmas. Because we all know comparison is the thief of joy. {Theodore Roosevelt said it; the Bible teaches it.} Do whatever brings joy to your heart....whatever makes you feel more alive and present.


This year, my girls decorated the house for Christmas. It's amazing that after all the years of helping, they now know exactly how to make it happen on their own. I stood by to make minor adjustments {at their invitation}, but for the most part, I just enjoyed watching them bring Christmas to our home when I wasn't really feeling it.


And you know what? The pure joy they felt while decorating brought joy to me...and to our home. We embraced simplicity and imperfection this year. Laughed at our $28 Costco tree that we didn't get to inspect until we got home. Hung the ornaments we love, and ditched the ones that are just fancy fillers. Skipped greenery over the mantle and just hung our stockings. Passed on a centerpiece and went with a few candles. Didn't stress about the lights that aren't working and just enjoyed the ones that are.


And to finish it off, we invited neighbors to join us for an impromptu feast by the fire in our dining room. Because no decorated space is worth a hill of beans to our family if we don't use it for fellowship and feasting!



Back to the pressure of Christmas. Something tells me it's always been there...long before we hijacked Christmas and turned it into a season of our own crazy making. Surely the whole earth was groaning with the pressure of imperfection and weightiness before Christ{mas} came to earth. And we groan again, under increasing pressure, as we await His return.


With an increasingly expectant heart,

27 comments:

  1. your home is beautiful.
    as always.

    i really did keep it simple this year…it felt good.
    i think it might get more and more simple every year.

    this whole blog thing…all of it is pressure somedays, huh?!

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  2. Pressure is only what you allow it to be. As you know, I shop early to avoid crowds and when you and Holly had your own homes and took over the holidays, that gave me a perfect out for decorating. Now it's just what I want to do and my heart is filled with peace.

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  3. Your words ring true to me this year. We didn't put up a tree, just a mantel garland and some greenery here and there. I do always put out our Christmas children's books (we have the Tolkien book too!) and framed photos of the children enjoying holidays past. I love remembering their sweet innocent faces from Christmases gone by. This year we have more time to give thanks without agonizing over magazine-quality interior décor. Ahhhhhh... I feel peace beginning to descend upon our happy home. Best wishes for a joyous Christmas season!

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    1. I love that you take the time to pull out old photos and frame them. What a great way to cherish memories. (And I love that we have children's books in common!)

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  4. Love you and your sincere heart. Love what the girls did in your home and that you stepped back and let them create their magic.

    Merry Christmas and blessings to you all.

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  5. you know that's one of the many reasons that i love and adore you right?
    your transparent, tender, heart that desires to be real. all velveteen rabbit somedays and effortlessly glorious others. ( YES>>>glorious!)
    i love how the girls decorated! and i love the hasenbank spirit of hospitality!

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    1. The Velveteen Rabbit is one of my all time favorites! I'm honored to be thought of in that way, sweet Paige!

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  6. i agree with you! we are embracing the REASON this year and everything else is grand if we get to it - and fine if we don't. it feels good.

    do you have a source for your metal nativity with the STORY as the manger? i love that! (along with all the rest of the girl's decorating!)

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    1. I bought it at a Christmas lunch where Barbara Rainey was speaking. Just hunted it down for you: http://shop.familylife.com/p-2548-he-came-near-nativity.aspx

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  7. You've said so many things that ring true to me...the pressure and the comparison. I try to stay true to myself, especially at Christmas because we must not never lose sight of what it's truly about. I do love tradition though and making new traditions. It may not always be simple but it's from the heart!

    XO,
    Jane

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    1. From the heart is what matters most!

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  8. I love your posts that are so full of Christ's love and wisdom. Thank you for spreading your special kind of joy that is just as anointed as anyone in a pulpit.

    Blessings this season and always,

    Victoria in Texas

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    1. Thank you for such a high compliment, Victoria. I've learned that anointed words come through struggles. It's when we're cracked open that the anointing seeps in.

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  9. We always have a simple Christmas and love it that way, but I teach at some high-end places (rocc, hou), and, while I love my students, sometimes an enthusiastic "We're spending this Christmas in Paris!/our ranch!/our beach house!,... Are you going somewhere?" makes me feel, well, not enthusiastic about ours. Thank you so much for the 'comparison' quote. I really needed to hear that. Little did you know you were sending out an extra Christmas gift today:-)
    ps: I met Holly jogging (in MY 'hood - north of 11th!) and she is lovely.

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    1. Oh, I so know the feeling! I'm always happy with my simple homebody self until I hear the 10th person talking about an exotic trip. Let's throw down comparison and pick up joy! Hugs!

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  10. You said it perfectly…I love your nativities and the beautiful tree your daughters created with love and joy in their hearts…and it shows.

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  11. "Do whatever brings joy to your heart....whatever makes you feel more alive and present."

    And not a thing more. Amen. Even in the midst of preparations that are intended to bring joy, we sometimes find ourselves needing a Get Out of Jail Free card. Your words are singing to me.

    Merry, merry!
    Nicole

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    1. Oh, I love that my words are singing to you, Nicole. What a sweet thought!

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  12. A few years ago I wrote a blog post about Christmas presents. If I were as articulate as you, it would have come out a lot more like this blog post of yours. I am so, so, so guilty of letting the competitive holiday-ing steal all of the joy of a holiday. I get so wrapped up in thinking that I need a wreath on every stinkin' window and I need to spend $500 on every person on my list that before I know it, it's all over and I feel deflated. I don't feel like my efforts were even worth it. That really tells me that it's just not right.
    After losing my mom and getting engaged within the past few months, I'm taking this Christmas to put on the brakes. No one is going to remember if you had garland on your mantle (mine is leftover and crispy from Thanksgiving) or if your wreath had a specific bow on it that you drove to 4 stores looking for. It's just not worth it!

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    1. I love your honesty. Thank you for being vulnerable right here in the comment box. Lots of grace and love to you as you celebrate Christmas with the pain of losing your mom and the joy of being engaged. Life is both. Hugs to you.

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  13. We have kept it very simple this year. Did not over schedule ourselves, took breaks, decorated using only what we had. Gifts have all been kept to $70 for each kiddo. It has been one of the nicest holiday seasons I can remember. I find that I am applying this concept to all year living, not just this time of year. Hoping you and your family have a lovely Christmas!

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    1. So true about needing simplicity all year!

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  14. I love this post and love your sincerity. I love decorating and this time brings me great joy in doing so, but this year have kept it somewhat simple. No, not just for me, but don't want my sweet daughter to grow up with all the pressure of this season can bring, but to really know the meaning of Christmas! What a great example this will be for your daughters too!
    Have a wonderful Christmas! Elba

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    1. Thank you, Elba. I love that you're mindful of the message you're sending to your daughter. And love that you find joy in decorating, yet are thoughtful about how much to do. Merry, merry!

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  15. truer words have not been spoken! i'm usually one that gets that extra surge of inspiration, motivated to spread and share joy, not a desire to out-do or keep up with others. but this year I spent so much time preparing for the photo shoot that I felt I didn't spend as much time focussed on my family. so while this is the time that I'm typically baking up a storm for friends, neighbors, teachers, etc, I decided to skip it all this year. To spend my afternoons reading Christmas stories in front of the fire with Charlie while Andrew is still in school. Go on hikes searching for pine cones. Have longer dinners as a family around the table at night. Nothing fancy, juts more time spent enjoying each other without the pressure to check things off a list. I don't feel any guilt about it, just following my heart. Merry Christmas to you dear friend.
    PS. If I see one more home with fresh greenery (other than a tree or placed in water!) indoors the first week in December I may have to boycott blogging for a while. It will be dried out and crumbling before we are anywhere even close to Christmas!! :) Ha!

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  16. Yes, indeed, Linsey! I especially love this time of year because I get to gather with friends and family from all over the world. The decorations, however lovely, are, well, just decorations.
    Warm wishes for a merry Christmas!!
    Loi

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  17. What a wonderful reminder and perspective on what's really important. Its funny how christmas decorating changes when you have kids. I tell myself, its their house, their christmas so what if the ornaments don't match! I actually found myself decorating extremely simple despite the pressures of "keeping" up with others. But each person has to do what's right for them. Merry christmas to you and your beautiful family.

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