final_advent_cover4.jpgFor the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

Last Christmas, my husband Corbin and I hosted the main course of a progressive dinner. I spent the day cramming every baby swing, rocker, Christmas bin, countless papers and mail, and anything else that would constitute clutter into the garage. The day also included a forty-minute hostage rescue as three-year-old Basden locked herself in the downstairs bathroom, right after five-year-old Hudson proceeded to pull a heavy pewter stocking holder off the mantle onto his forehead, resulting in a purple and blue goose egg. After a full day of cooking, cleaning, setting up Christmas decorations (picture Corbin wrestling with strands and strands of white lights, including splicing wires), and placing tables and folding chairs all over the house, we were finally ready for our guests.

Right before the crowd arrived, I double-checked the front porch for poinsettias and all the little white lights had Corbin worked so hard on. Yea! With just minutes remaining, everything was in its place! Smoke filled the house as I walked back inside. At my request, Corbin had started a fire in the fireplace, and I’d neglected to tell him that I had closed the damper the day before. Oops. So we threw open all the doors and turned on ceiling fans (in 35-degree-weather) to clear the kitchen and den of the thick smoke. About that time, all our guests arrived, having caravanned from the “appetizer” home. Unbeknownst to us, six-year-old Branson went outside to greet them. But instead of inviting them through the newly-decorated front entry, he graciously opened the garage door and loudly beckoned, “Welcome! Come on in through the garage!”

Things often don’t go as planned during the Christmas holidays, given all that the busy season requires. The necessities for preparing my heart and home for the beauty of the Advent season include lots of laughter and flexibility. Even more important than grandiose meals and impeccably decorated homes, striving to joyfully go with the flow keeps my heart at a place of contentment.

Father, please replace my frustration with laughter and my irritation with joy this Advent season. I recognize that I need Your strength to truly enjoy this full, worshipful time.

Can you recall a Christmas event or tradition falling apart? Is it something that could have been handled with laughter rather than angst? How would it affect those around you – especially children or a spouse – to see you handle Christmas “lightly” this season?