Last Christmas I got really into decorating our house. Lights and those shiny balls (so cheap, but pretty hanging from the ceiling or mounted in bowls), holly and burlap are among my Christmas decorating staples. I really did let myself get stressed by the season. With decorating, baking goodies, buying gifts, planning a trip (Gregg’s present last year was a quick trip to New York City), I missed the reason for the season. (The perfect overused phrase for what happened–and it rhymes.) I didn’t realize it until Christmas was over, so this year I’m taking a slightly different approach.
This season, I decorated, but I did it pretty quickly so as not to get consumed by it. We aren’t getting gifts for as many family members this year as we did last year (this cuts down on stress). The gifts I have purchased are ones that I’m excited about giving, and I haven’t spent too much money on everyone. But, I’m also preparing.
I’m preparing for Christmas itself even though I’m really not sure how to do this. Reading baby Jesus scripture, gazing at an Advent wreath…I’m not sure, those don’t feel quite right to me. But, I’ve found a way to tie in preparing for a baby with preparing for Christmas. This just occurred to me this morning. The common denominator between the two (Christmas and pregnancy) is grace. Grace.
Even though I’m not sure how to prepare for Christmas, I’ve been doing a lot of preparing for a baby coming our way. When I ask moms for advice, (and I have been asking. I’m usually not a fan of advice, but I’ve had little shame in asking about maternity clothes, baby gear, labor, reusable diapers, pumping, a side ways swinging swing versus a normal swinging swing, and motherhood in general. The questions are endless. I can’t get enough of this advice to be honest. And, I know I’m not going to get all of the answers until, um, I guess never.)
One piece of advice that I’ve been holding onto is to give yourself grace. (Two examples are E’s posts and Ashley’s post, another example being my good friend Anne Lamott.) This is not my best attribute. But these women are saying over and over, give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack, trust its all going to be okay. Grace. Grace. Grace. They are talking about those immediate post-baby months and forever after that, too. So, I figure, I should go ahead and practice now. Christmastime seems like a good time to start.
Now, how do I do that? Again, not really sure. Its a total change in thinking. A different way of thinking about myself and looking at myself. Lowering the standard for myself of what I should do. Should=my Arch enemy. As I’m preparing for labor and preparing to be a parent, learning things like how to keep a baby from crying not-stop, etc., I’m also preparing to practice grace. Anne Lamott talks about looking at yourself from the outside with absolute tenderness. She describes how helpful this is. This is how God looks at me/us, right? So why shouldn’t I/we do the same for myself/ourselves?