Monday, December 01, 2008

Keeping a Mary Christmas

Welcome to this week's At the Well, where the topic is Keeping a Mary Christmas.

Christmas is one time of the year when it's so easy to be a Martha.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." ~ Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

While it wasn't exactly Christmas when Christ stopped by the home of Martha and her sister Mary, I can imagine the hustle and bustle that ensued. The hurt feelings of Martha that her sister Mary wasn't doing her part in the preparations resulted in her going to Jesus, complaining about all that she was doing alone, and giving him the directive to tell Mary to help her.

I love Jesus' gentle answer. His heart went out to her. He understood that she was worried about many things; the preparation, the cooking, the cleaning, the "etc." in it all. But Mary had chosen the better part. Sitting at the feet of Christ and listening to what He had to say. He would not take that away from her.

The Bible doesn't go on to say that Martha threw her dishtowel up in the air and wept at the feet of Christ. It doesn't say that she stomped her foot in defiance and went on about her duties. It just doesn't say. Perhaps we are left to form our own response to Jesus' answer.

Christmas can be a hectic and holy time of the year. From the time you draw names on Thanksgiving night to the day before Christmas while the fudge is setting and you're dashing out the door to turn on the lights for the decorations outside, it's a time when priorities can get mixed up.

Tracy asks:

Are there areas which need to be simplified?

Are there areas in which do NOT glorify God and need to be rethought?

We always get together at my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. It's a wonderful day filled with chattering with family and friends, watching babies crawl, walk, etc., and 4 wheeler riding if the weather cooperates and my cousin brings his 4 wheeler. Everyone brings something food-wise, and we snack until supper time, when we do a sandwich tray and veggies and fruit.

Last year we simplified the gift exchange idea. I'll never forget the Christmas that my uncle and I happened to be outside at the same time, loading boatloads of gifts in our respective cars. We looked at each other and said, "We ought to be ashamed of ourselves." While we had more in our own hands than many third world countries have sum total, we didn't need it. We all bought presents for everyone there. 20 presents. It killed us financially, but we did it each year until 2007. There were marriages and babies and it just wasn't realistic to ask so many young couples to spend the $$$ that they didn't have one gifts we didn't need. Steve and I breathed a huge sigh of relief, too.

We drew names among the adults. All the kids still got presents from everyone. It was so fun to be able to spend more on a good gift for a couple or a single, depending on whose name you drew, than to have to skimp on quality so you could do quantity. It also made it alot more fun to buy for the little ones. They had so many presents under the tree that they were ecstatic. We are not a materialistic family, but Christmas is the one time of the year, other than birthdays, that we do gifts, so the kids were thrilled to see the shiny boxes and bags and know that they had surprises in there. It's far better for the kids to get the gifts than the adults.

This year I'm also simplifiying cooking. I'm not making all the things I have in the past. I used to make fudge, another candy, 2 casseroles, a crockpot of some appetizer, a cake, etc. This year I am making fudge, a birthday cake, meatballs, and taking 2 gallons of sweet tea. We're doing an email loop to keep up with who is bringing what, reminding everyone of events and sales and things about Christmas...guess who was re-elected to do that on Thanksgiving? Me! That's okay! I love it. The organizer in me has a binder with sections for food, arrival dates, time to start gift-wrapping, etc.

One of the things I started last year was the birthday cake. After the blessing, we lit candles and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. The kids blew out the candles and we knew why we were all gathered there.

I love this time of the year. When things do get hectic, I tend to retreat and read the Christmas story. It reminds me of why we celebrate this time of the year. That it's not about decorations, food, gifts, etc. It's about the birth of our Savior! May His Name be praised forever!

Won't you join us At the Well this morning? Click here to visit...


Denise said...

You never cease to amaze me, I love you my friend.

Melanie said...

What wonderful Christmas de-stressing ideas. My family started only buying for the children and my parents a couple of years ago. I'm so glad that we did for all the reasons you have mentioned. My husband and I both are hoping his family will make the same decision soon.

Have a blessed Monday, my friend!

LauraLee Shaw said...

Great suggestions and insights as usual. So difficult when you're dealing with other people in the family who do not agree with simplifying. But, you know, one year at a time, hopefully the message will be contagious. Love your ideas on it.

LAURIE said...

Great ideas here Laurie Ann. We also trimmed back our gift buying nonsense several years ago. For me, because we live miles and miles away from most of our family - I would have to ship everything and that added to the top of the cost of Christmas. Now we send a "family" gift to the siblings like a tin of nuts or something.

This year we are even simplifying our Christmas with the children. I keep reminding them that it is not about the amount but the heart of giving.

Thanks for sharing with us Laurie Ann....-blessings, Laurie

He And Me + 3 said...

Instead of exchanging gifts with a friends family one year we threw a Birthday party for Jesus. It was so great! Thanks for the reminder.

Janet said...

I love your idea about why the Bible doesn't tell us how Martha responded to Christ when He defended Mary. Thank you for giving me something new to think about.

Joyfull said...

I loved reading your creative and efficient ideas. Really love the binder idea! We can all learn from overboard presents, our family draws names also and it is a much better system of giving. Thanks for being a blessing.

Jennifer said...

Sounds like a lovely, relaxing...well organized time spent with your family.

In our family...all the children are now adults with children of their own. Our Christmas buying list has gotten very short these days.

I, too, love this time of the year!

Heather B. said...

Those are great family traditions and get-togethers!
Thanks for sharing,
God bless.

lori said...

Laurie Ann...I think that so many of us feel "Guilty" for know...but we HAVE to...It's just too much and you are right, there are people who NEED what we are throwing away...wonderful perspective...:)
I'm so glad that I made it to the well today!

DarcyLee said...

We, too, have scaled down our gift-giving and it just takes off so much of the financial stress. Young couples certainly don't need that added stress. Thank you so much for sharing.

Michele Williams said...

Great post! I love the suggestions. You are an amazing woman! Blessings.

Debra said...

Laurie Ann,

Loved that you and your family member were in agreement with 'less' is more! I can't seem to get there with mine! I keep praying!

Loved your post, sweet friend. Happy Monday to you!

Named Alicia said...

What a wonderful way to spend Christmas! Unfortunately this time of year can be stressful with family. But it seems like your family has firgured out how to destress it some. I love it!

Take care my friend!
Have a great week!

Patty Wysong said...

When we switched to drawing names it was a huge relief for us, too. Simplfying really is the way to go! I love your idea of the email loop!

Homesteader in Training said...

My mind kind of went blank when you said fudge! We try to keep things simple here. We do an annual Christmas party at our house and that is about as hectic as it gets.
Fudge huh? Hmmmm.