The nativity scene has always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Baby Jesus in the manger in the center, Mary and Joseph nearby, a collection of shepherds with their animals, the star. The nativity tells the story of the first Christmas, the humble setting, and the miracle of Jesus’s birth. When I look at a nativity it feels peaceful, serene, still, and perfect, just as the song explains, Silent Night.
Then I became a parent.
I still believe the nativity scene tells the story of Christmas, but only about three minutes of the story. The miracle of Jesus’s birth is still there and just as meaningful, but now that I’m a parent I see the simple miracle of a sleeping infant. Now I get the line of the song “sleep in heavenly peace” because when babies are finally asleep, it feels like heaven.
No way Mary and Joseph were able to sit awkwardly as those figurines in my house looking at baby Jesus for hours. I don’t know what they did when Jesus fell asleep but I’m sure they felt stressed. For one, feeling stressed is a basic human condition when you have your firstborn, and two, their relationship seemed a bit tense. Joseph had to be convinced by an angel to even stay with Mary. I’m not sure what they did when Jesus fell asleep, but if they were lucky they fell asleep too. The advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps” could be ancient Jewish wisdom. Perhaps they talked softly in the starlight. If they were anything like us, Mary was reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Joseph was busy installing the baby carrier to the donkey.
At Christmas we often expect holy perfection and become disheartened with our real experience. We have visions of perfect holiday peace and joy; we even decorate the house with those words. In reality, the holidays may feel neither peaceful or joyous. Stress and conflict, busyness, pressures, and exhaustion seem more the norm, especially when parenting.
Parenting is difficult. It can be especially taxing to your marriage during the holiday season.
- Discuss what you and your spouse would like your children to experience and learn this holiday season. When you understand you have a common goal negotiating the strategy to meet the goal is easier.
- Celebrate your kids. Stop, even in the chaos of parenting, and express thankfulness for the blessing of your children. It’s extra meaningful when your children hear you.
To learn more, including three practical strategies to successfully connect with your children and your spouse during this special season, Click here for your Holiday Survival Guide!