I woke up under a blanket of dread the other morning. Less than two weeks until Christmas, and visions of all I needed to do yet danced in my head. Cookies to bake for T-Rex’s class exchange. Presents to find for the great grandparents. A scarf to knit that Little Miss has been asking for. A blanket to make for T-Rex with a hole in the middle (so he can wear it like a poncho). Addressing Christmas cards (that I still don’t have in hand). Wrapping gifts. Packing for a few days at my parents’ house. Food to purchase and prep for a family gathering.
Before I tossed the covers to the foot of the bed, I’d lived a week and a half in my head. All I wanted to do was stay in bed until Christmas was over.
How did I get to this point? How is it that the season I used to adore had become such a chore?
I bumped into a friend the other day at my favorite coffee shop. She volunteered in the school for the “Secret Santa” shopping days. She chuckled as she told me about helping T-Rex pick out gifts for his family. I laughed as I imagined him jumping up and down the aisles, bouncing with anticipation of picking out the perfect gift for his family. (He’s 100% certain Little Miss has always needed a yellow smiley-face frisbee!)
I used to be like that. Before it became a chore.
And that’s when I realized, I hadn’t just lost the childlike wonder of Christmas.
I’d let Christmas become about obligation instead of adoration.
Adoration for the baby born in a stable.
Adoration for a God who loved me so much that He wouldn’t leave me alone.
Adoration for my family and our time spent together.
Adoration for a season set aside to connect with people and show them how much I love them.
That subtle shift in thinking changed not just my attitude, but my joy and energy and peace.
I determined that from here going forward, my focus would be adoration. Anything that was merely an obligation and wasn’t about love, was getting crossed off the list. (No Christmas lights hung outside? Done feeling bad about it.)
As I shifted back into the gear of love, I couldn’t wait to bake cookies with T-Rex that evening. He’d asked for all chocolate cookies, and I had the perfect recipe to share. And not just a recipe – but a memory of my dear aunt who gave the recipe to me before she passed away. I wasn’t just making cookies because I *had* to. I was making cookies because I adore T-Rex, adore spending time with him, and wanted to share this moment with him.
Of course, as soon as you decide to do things out of love, your love will be tested. The first batch of cookies just didn’t look right. Flat, too squishy, under baked. I reviewed the recipe and realized I had forgotten the baking soda. I sent T-Rex to bed and promised he’d have chocolate cookies to take to school in the morning. “Don’t forget the baking soda, Mom!” he reminded me from his bed.
Of course the dough has to chill for an hour. I whipped up another batch of dough, but just had this feeling that something still wasn’t right. The dough felt oily, like you could wring it out. I reviewed the recipe again. 1 1/2 cups of oil seemed like a lot. So I called my Mom. The recipe had come from her sister. Maybe she still had the original recipe.
She rustled through her cupboard and pulled out her notebook of handed-down recipes. She read the recipe back to me, and I discovered that for 15 years, I’ve had the recipe wrong. 1/2 cup of oil, not 1 1/2. Somehow, I’d written it down incorrectly.
9:30 p.m., I pulled the dough out of the fridge, dumped it, and started batch #3.
It was so ridiculous. I stood in the kitchen and laughed and laughed. If I didn’t, I would have cried.
Friends on Facebook urged me to just run to the grocery and buy cookies. If this hadn’t been about love, I would have. I had promised T-Rex all-chocolate cookies that were his great-aunt’s recipe. A great aunt that I adored and we lost to cancer much too young. For the love of her memory and cookies that she always baked for me upon request, I tried once more to repeat the love for T-Rex.
Love always requires a bit more work, and it rarely comes easily.
Like leaving the comforts of heaven and being born in a stable. Like leaving perfection for a broken, messed up world.
So this season, let’s go the extra mile for people. Not out of obligation, but out of adoration, and to honor the One Who came and showed us the way of love. Watch how that subtle shift in perspective infuses you with energy and peace.
Even a disastrous cookie escapade can morph from an ordinary, dreadful obligation with a deadline, to an activity saturated with love. Love sourced from the greatest Gift ever given.
Have a blessed holiday season with your families! I’ll be back in January!