Preparations and Expectations at the Holidays

We were supposed to host 18 family members for Thanksgiving Day dinner.

The house was as immaculate as ever (especially with young kids), the turkey was in the oven, and our formal China set was on the table ready for its first use since our wedding 9 years ago.

Then Connor took one bite of his breakfast and threw up.

And suddenly, plans changed. We quickly shifted to my mom’s house instead, called all the family members, and loaded up our van with all of the napkins, drinks and food we had prepared for our home. Sure, I was disappointed that the Thanksgiving I’d been looking forward to didn’t pan out as it was supposed to. But it offered an opportunity to focus on the celebration in front of me, and not the one that I was expecting, which didn’t happen.

Expectations and preparations usually go hand-in-hand. We expect events or celebrations or days to go a certain way, and our preparations for those events revolve around those expectations.

Over the last few weeks – starting with that Thanksgiving stomach bug – I’ve been taking care of sick family and devoting some days to nursing kids back to health. As the holiday season and Brenna’s birthday quickly approaches, I’ve also been feeling a much larger-than-it-should-be responsibility to make sure everything goes as planned… helping to coordinate menus and party details and holiday activities and gift lists. I’ve been holding myself accountable for All The Things, and I didn’t even register this until one day last week when I spent the whole day convinced I was getting really sick. Until I realized that my impending illness was actually stress-induced, not virus-induced.

I took a day off. My wonderful husband took on the juggle of getting the kids ready for school and preschool pick-up while I slept without an alarm clock, got a massage, and browsed a store. For myself.

But most importantly, I sat in the quiet of the morning with God. And in that reflection, I came to see how my preparations have been misguided and my responsibility has been so misplaced.

Coordinating gift lists often comes with the territory, but I have a much simpler, yet incredibly more valuable, responsibility…To make Jesus known.

Not only in the holiday season, but every day – what are my most meaningful preparations, my true celebration, my ultimate responsibility? 

When I examine my desire and expectation for these days, these activities to be wonderful, marvelous, awesome… it is made so clear through Whom I will actually find that wonder, marvel, awe.

The stores, the ads, the pageants, the gift lists, the lights displays…All The Things are clamoring for our attention. But with these preparations for the holiday festivities, what – or more accurately, Who – are we actually preparing for? The expectations offer less pressure and the details feel much more insignificant when I ask one question: how can I live out each day making the coming of Jesus known with my words, my attitude and my actions?

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