Last year we made a choice to stay home for Christmas. My kids requested it. It was a tough choice for me. For the past 20 years we have been driving from Iowa to Maryland and West Virginia to see family. It’s just what we do. Or did. 

But here’s the thing. Traditions change. Life changes. Kids grow up. Parents age. 

This year we are at home again, but not by choice. We had plans to travel. Those plans changed and here we are. Again. 

My first response was sadness. Grief. Grieving the loss of seeing family and continuing Christmas traditions.

I was also frustrated. Planning our trip had been stressful. Picking dates that were agreeable to all was a challenge. It used to be easy. The kids had little say in our plans. We just piled everyone in the car and took off. They considered it fun. We would load stockings full of travel gifts that they could open along the way. We played car games and stayed in a hotel. Seeing cousins and grandparents was a treat. 

But, my children aren’t so young anymore and the trip doesn’t hold as much excitement as it once did. Two and a half weeks is a long time for my young adult children to be visiting family. I get it. 

Thankfully, amidst the disappointments of this season, I’ve learned something. It’s a truth I’ve known, but have not truly experienced until now: Jesus makes Christmas. Not the presents. Not the tree. Not even family. All these things are good and wonderful and add to the season, but when they change, Jesus is still here. 

For so long I have been depending on the traditions surrounding Christmas to bring me joy. To make me happy. I’ve looked to circumstances and things to give Christmas meaning. Not on purpose. It just happened. It took a season of loss to focus my attention back on Jesus. To see my joy comes from Him alone. Everything else is just extra. 

It’s only in remembering this that I’ve been able to accept and be okay with staying home for Christmas. 

I hope you too are able to find Jesus this weird year of disappointments and grief. He is here. He is Christmas. 

Merry Christmas Friends!

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