Have you ever heard the saying, “Slow as Christmas”?
Like, “That car is going slow as Christmas!”
Or, “I hate theme parks. This line is moving slow as Christmas!”
Maybe it’s a southern expression. Either way, I’ve certainly heard it and said it a few times, mostly during mild road rage situations. It occurred to me recently that this saying had to either come from a child or an adult remembering the nostalgia of childhood Christmases because Christmas doesn’t generally feel slow for adults.
Is there anything more magical than Christmas when you’re a kid? You wait and anticipate and count the days and dream about what gifts might be under the tree.
I always looked forward to Christmas at my grandparents’ river-side log cabin. We went every Christmas Eve. My family wasn’t small since my mom was one of six, and they would pack into that little cabin with their spouses and all my cousins every year. That evening was special for so many reasons (family, food, laughter), but it also signaled that it was Christmas. It was the start of our family Christmas traditions that would last for the next 24 hours, and I loved it.
As I grew into adulthood, Christmas came more quickly, and if I’m being honest, lost some of its magic. That changed when I had my daughter and my sister adopted 3 babies back-to-back. Suddenly, the magic was back ten-fold because there’s nothing more joyous and fun during the holidays than kids.
But suddenly Christmas was moving even faster. I looked up and we are quickly approaching my daughter’s third Christmas. And I’m trying so hard to absorb it all up, but I just can’t get my fill before time flies past.
Christmas has become anything but slow. I’m pretty sure God never intended on it being such an intense and rushed season. I think it’s a time meant for reflection and remembering all God has done for us individually and for the whole of mankind through the birth of our Savior.
And for those reasons, I want to slow it down this year and soak up the little moments as much as I can. Here’s a few ways I’m doing that, and you can too:
- Shopping early. It’s already December, so if you haven’t started yet, now is the time. This year I started months ago, simply jotting down names I planned to buy for and gift ideas as they came to me. I took advantage of store sales and online deals, so I won’t be rushing a few days before Christmas and overpaying. This is a new one for me because I’m usually scrambling at the last minute, and often wind up getting a last-minute gift card. But this year, I was intentional, and it’s really helping my stress levels. Stressing over gifts adds to the chaos and speed of the season, not to mention keeps up focused on everything but the reason for the holiday.
- Frequently remembering the Christmas story. For your kids you can purchase a nativity book or get graphics online to engage them in the story. I found an inexpensive book with wonderful art and a pop out manger on the last page. My 2-year-old loves reading about “baby Jesus,” and she engages with the story. I pull it out several times a week to remind her and myself what the season is all about it. When we have that perspective, all the rushing and presents lose some of our attention. If you don’t have kids or if you have older kids, make it a point to study the birth of Christ throughout the season or have a family conversation around the table. Remembering the actual reason for Christmas also enhances just how special this season is. All the “magic of Christmas” actually comes from the most amazing and miraculous gift mankind was ever given. Let’s instill that truth in our children early and remind ourselves.
- Creating and/or carrying out traditions. If you have traditions already in place, make a point to fulfill those. Sometimes the season gets full of all the other activities, and we miss out on some of our smaller, special traditions. Attend the family functions if that’s special to you and your crew, or create some quieter traditions at home that make the season feel extra special. Little things like making a certain cookie recipe, watching a specific movie together, or participating in a charity together each year adds so much value to the season. Not to mention, adding charity to your kids’ Christmas traditions encourages gratitude and humility – something we all need more of!
- Finding ways to make the season stretch. Put the lights up early or leave them up longer. Give a few gifts to your kids throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas and not just on Christmas Day. My family does a larger family get together the second weekend of December, and a few of us do something on Christmas Day. I feel like I have so many traditions and small gatherings to look forward to, and I’m cramming less into a short window.
- Embracing the season for what it is. Did you buy more gifts than planned? Are y’all going to less events than you wanted? We all have a different idea of what our Christmas should look like, but all the struggling to make your perfect picture happen eats up a lot of time. Just embrace it this year. The memorable moments rarely happen in the perfectly constructed plan and often happen in the spontaneous messes around us.
And also, remember this verse.
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23
God is with us. The joy of the season is that Christ came, so that separation from God and man would end and that He would be with us again. Jesus came and was with us, and the Holy Spirit is with us now. He is WITH us now! No matter what your life looks like right now, He is still with you. And that’s not just for the Christmas season. The perfection of Christmas is that He is Immanuel, and He is with us all year long.
If you are full of joy and excitement for the season or if you’re barely getting through, He is with you. And that is the magic of the season. A restored connection to the Father. Hope for mankind.
Written by: Anna Wetherington. Anna is a therapist, mom, and writer living in Valdosta, GA with her husband and daughter.