At my house, a Christmas elf makes sure the house gets a good cleaning for the holidays, decorations come out, the menu is planned and the food bought, the tree is set up and presents are thoughtfully purchased and wrapped. Kinda like that old story about the shoemaker and his shoes, ya know?
Sometimes I think my family believes there’s an elf, because they show up Christmas morning all gung-ho to celebrate and I’m not certain they have a clue how everything got there. But the truth is, it’s me. Or as I like to refer to myself this time of year, Mrs. Claus.
I love advent and the Christmas season. I like the lights, I enjoy wrapping presents, and appreciate the food, games, songs and worship. But I have to admit getting there is sometimes stressful. There’s a lot to do, and when I get tired and whiny I feel like the only one making it happen is me—well, me and a couple of little people and three dogs who are harder to corral than a herd of hungry reindeer.
So I get stressed. Worried. Anxious. Why can’t I find the Advent Train? I know it was with the Christmas stuff when I put it away last year. Why can I never seem to find the right connections to make the Christmas tree lights work? Every year I think I’ll remember for the next, and then I never do. How am I going to get the presents wrapped when I’m on a double deadline? WHY am I on a double deadline? And how am I ever going to be able to make sure every person in my family has the SAME NUMBER OF GIFTS? Trust me. This is a thing.
And sometimes, I feel like it’s a burden and not a blessing.
I was recently accused of being a Martha. You know what? I am. I’m the one running around like a chicken with my head cut off making sure it all gets done and squawking all the while.
Up until now, I always thought Martha got the short end of the stick. I mean, I get what Jesus was saying—He was definitely the most important person at the house and spending time with Him was by far the most important thing. But (and this is where I always get tripped up) STUFF HAD TO GET DONE. Someone had to cook and serve all those people. Is it any wonder that Martha was a little stressed?
I went back to that passage and re-read it, looking for clues on how to deal with my own anxiety throughout this holiday season. Martha was initially the one who joyfully welcomed Jesus to the house, which I imagine is similar to putting up the decorations and welcoming Christmas to my house. But then, everything goes downhill. Martha complains to Jesus that she’s burdened with too much serving. She needs Mary (her family) to help. What’s the deal, here, anyway?
Ahem. Sounds a little too familiar.
Jesus answers her plea to have Mary help her by pointing out Martha’s problem. It wasn’t that there weren’t things to do—there were. But Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” (emphasis mine)
It’s not the doing, or the needs to be done, but my response to it. I can be anxious and worried, or I can keep my heart, mind and spirit focused on the One who came as a babe one blessed evening in Bethlehem and will someday return crowned as a glorious King. To sit at His feet and listen to His voice.
I don’t know about you, but I’m hanging up my Martha apron this season. Instead, I’m bowing at the manger and worshiping the Christ Child. There’s room for you, too. See you there! Merry Christmas!
Deb Kastner’s latest release from Harlequin Love Inspired is Yuletide Cowboys.
Jill Weatherholt says
It’s difficult not to get stressed out this time of the year. When I find myself slipping down that road, I try and remind myself that life is good, and this time next year, my world could be completely different. A loved one may no longer be with us, or my health or someone I love, could be poor. I try to stay in the moment of the blessings around me.
Deb Kastner says
Great thoughts, Jill. We are truly blessed!
Valerie Comer says
I’m a Martha, too. Thank you for pointing out that it’s the worry and anxiety that’s the problem, not the doing of stuff that needs to be done.
One thing I stopped doing a few years ago is all the Christmas baking. While I love Christmas cookies, they don’t love me back. My kids and grandkids don’t need all that sugar and other calories any more than I do. (Hubby thinks he does—how does he stay so thin???)
And I decorate less than I used to. It can be Christmas with “just” a tree, a manger scene, a wreath on the door, and a couple of lighted garlands.
Deb Kastner says
I don’t worry about baking, except for the cookies that come right out of those tubes. That I can do!
JoAnn Durgin says
Great post, Deb! I was sitting here nodding my head and smiling while reading it. I think most women are a Martha to a certain extent. I used to be until my mother and brother came to live with us. Wow, did my life change. In some ways, I feel like my house is not my house anymore, and that has been a very difficult adjustment. On the other hand, I’ve learned to let certain things go and not stress. What would be the point? The scripture, “Be still, and know that I am God,” resonates with me and I often repeat it to myself. I’ve also learned to delegate so that the burden of getting everything done is not on me. There’s no reason others can’t help pitch in and get it all done…together. Much love to you and yours during this joyous season, Deb! :)
Deb Kastner says
We’ve got a full house, here, as well, with my oldest daughter and her family living with us. I’m a terrible delegator. I’m not good at asking, and then when I do, I sit there and itch to have it done my way. I’m just a tiny bit OCD about how the dishes go in the dishwasher, LOL. Merry Christmas to you!!
This time of year can make me stressed. But, our family is so easily pleased. The simple acts of being together, reading, watching football or hockey and relaxing are very special to us. Although, I do worry about the house being clean and ready for company. haha! Merry Christmas!
Deb Kastner says
Great reminder that Christmas is about family.
Beautiful post, Deb! And what a good insight: it’s our attitude of worry and anxiety that causes the problems. I think that just might apply to a lot of other areas besides preparing for Christmas, at least for me. Thank you.
Katy C. says
Great post! I am not a Martha about Christmas right now, but I definitely default to that in a lot of other ares of life.
Merrillee Whren says
Deb, what you said is so right. Thanks for the reminder. I’m right there with you when it comes to not remembering what I did with certain items. Last year I couldn’t find the table runners that I put out of several tables, so last year I had a plan when I put them away. I packed them with the stuff that goes in the room where I use them. Still kept wondering where they were when I unpacked the decorations. Maybe I need to write myself a note on my computer for next year.
Deb Kastner says
Ha ha! I think I need an inventory, Merrillee. Along with instructions. My poor brain is shorting out.
Diana W says
I loved your account of the elf in your house. It made me laugh. My kids are older, grown and out, the last one is almost out, a senior in college, and engaged. So not only are we doing Christmas stuff, but wedding stuff, and her radiator blew on her old car, so car stuff. (Telling the tow truck driver where her car was when he called me because he couldn’t find it, and she was unreachable in a clinical, was interesting. I live three hours away from her college!) Your admonition of not worrying was timely.
Deb Kastner says
Wow. A wedding in the mix! Crazy. Our only car broke down (for good) as did our refrigerator, all in the span of one week, so I’m having to remind myself not to worry…again. Car stuff is the worst. Blessings on the wedding!
Total Martha here! There’s always something more to do, clean, cook, etc. Maybe if I took more time to relax, I could actually enjoy time with family. Other than cook the dinner, I think I can do just that and not worry about so many other details :-)
Diane Markesbery says
I am definitely a Martha. I have had thoughts like you so often. I found that if I do the busy work “as unto the Lord ” I regain my joy and peace. I can then let some things go and do my best on what I can do. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR JOURNEYS THOUGHTS. I am inspired to celebrate Christmas with Jesus at the fore front.
Linda Herold says
Your post described how my mom gets for Thanksgiving! No matter what I say to her, every year she “freaks out”! Then we get through the day and end up throwing out the excess desserts days later!
Narelle Atkins says
Deb, lovely post :) I have a part-time retail job and December is a crazy month. It’s like a cloud of stress descends on the store and won’t go away. This year I’m simplifying what we’re doing for Christmas and trying not to get stressed out at work.
D K Stevens says
The kids always offer to bring something.. this year I’ll let them! Yesss, less stress! Enjoyed you sharing, I’ll see you there!