Bossy Christmas

I have been really silent here at What She Said. I get really quiet when I’m wrestling.

Major indicator you need an attitude adjustment: Your six-year-old son asks, “Mama, why don’t you like Christmas?” Oh, my. Is it that obvious? I suppose if you are short with answers, too busy to play, and constantly asking, “Now, where did I put my coffee?” a sharp boy will notice.


Having children has forced my Christmas wrestling to a new level. And this year my schedule doesn’t permit time for Christmas. You heard me, there is no room. No room. Pun absolutely intended. Stay-at-home moms should have time for Christmas hoopla, right?

We brought our third child home from Russia six months ago. He is the biological sibling to my first son. We are still in survival mode. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, and soon speech therapy. Every week. (More on adoption later. You know, when I can write about my kids without boo-hooing all over my laptop.)  In order for Christmas to get calendar time here, I’ve had to give up either the laundry, or the cooking, or the breathing. Now, the cleaning…that was quite easy to give up. Perhaps I’ll corral the dust bunnies in January.

Santa has pushed me up against the socially appropriate wall, people. It seems everything about Christmas that really doesn’t matter gets done, and all that is important will never happen. I’ve wrestled big ole bossy-pants Christmas down to some level of simplicity, much to the chagrin of my children. They understand why each year they each have three gifts under the tree. But they don’t understand why Mama’s eyes aren’t sparkly with anticipation for every ballet class Christmas party and home school tutorial beanie baby exchange.

Are you amused or overwhelmed by all of the blogs vomiting up ideas for how to turn your Christmas into a more “meaningful” time of celebrating? Is it just me? Blogs about simplifying while giving more to-dos. You are cracking me up, crazy blogging super-moms. I don’t want more to-dos, even if they are about Jesus, Advent, family, food, decorating, or eggnog. I’m just not seeing God in the holy, socially appropriate to-dos. And I need to see Him. I want to be released from the Christmas busyness. Ugh.

I asked myself, “Mama, what is it you really want here?” Alright, so it sounded more like, “Mama Grinchness, what is your problem?” The answer is harsh. Christmas takes from me the only thing I want: time. I truly want a holiday. A holy day. Time to breathe. Time to play with the children God has so graciously given. In the floor. While laughing like hysterical maniacs. But, you see, I’ll be too busy meal-planning, cooking, taking kids here-and-there, providing down time for all, buying obligatory yet unneeded or unwanted gifts, and creating some kind of “Christmas atmosphere” for my family.

The reality is I am in awe over the baby Jesus. Christmas, not that much. Just give me the baby. And let me give Him to my children. Give me God. And let my children watch me worship Him. I just worshiped all the way to Siberia and back a second time so two brothers could grow up together. Now our family celebrates this God who is His own masterful family artist – our daily work with this sweet son who should be walking and talking is our celebration. I taste Advent as I wait prayerfully and with great hope for words from my son. I wonder at God as I watch my older children give grace and mercy to the little brother who is working so hard to “catch up.” I rely on that baby in the manger through every exhausting day of Christmas. Ironic, no?

I want to join you in your giddy cookie-baking. I long to feel pride over a stuffed calendar. For the sake of looking like a normal American, I would like to take my kids to every stinking holiday activity. I just can’t join you there, friends. Wait, can we still be friends? I want to worship the Creator – not Christmas.  It cannot be both this year. Now, where is my coffee?

  • Alison Hodgson

    I loved: “Just give me the baby. And let me give him to my children.” You are.

    Give up the laundry and the cleaning, but keep breathing, slowly and deeply.

    Thanks for this true post.

    • Andrea Ferrell

      Thanks so much, Alison.

  • Tara Edelschick

    Hi Andrea. Thanks for this post.

    I don’t know if helps, but I think Christmas is all about occupational therapy, and laundry and breathing. It’s about an incarnate God, who came down to be with people as they had a cup of coffee.

    He was love incarnate. And because he’s in you, love incarnate is what you are to your children. Merry Christmas!

    • Andrea Ferrell

      Oh, Tara. There is where I’m paralyzed this year. I agree Christmas is about all those things — but my kids aren’t there. They want Legos, and Santa, and lights, and parties with friends, and those Rudolph antlers and nose on the car (Mama said “no” to that). They want to revel in it. I did, too, as a child. And this year, wow, I can’t make room for all the reveling.

      Wishing you the merriest Christmas, sweet mama.

  • Cottage By The Sea

    This is the most beautifully, succinctly, written post I’ve read on a blog all of this Christmas. You have covered every feeling I am having about Christmas and all the doings leading up to it this year. You can definitely still be my friend. It’s good to know that I’m not the bad guy, because I feel pretty much as you do, while everyone around me seems to just be looking for more ‘things’ to DO. There is someone else out there somewhere who gets why this holiday isn’t a holiday anymore but has evolved into something that makes me tired, cranky and perhaps even a bit bitter. Lets be honest. You have, and I appreciate it. You summed it all up at the end with hope (which is really all we need) writing the words, “And because he’s in you, love incarnate is what you are to your children.” Thanks for this post, it was a breath of fresh air in an over crowded mind today. To you and yours, a blessed Christmas. Tia

    • Andrea Ferrell

      Thanks so much for your thoughts, Tia. Glad to know we can still be friends!

  • Laura Maxwell

    @cottage by the sea ~ You said what I was thinking!!!!!

  • karatemom


    What an awesome post!!! You articulated just how we feel. We have been trying to scale back on the maniacal exchange of gifts for years, but it’s especially difficult with my family whose only love language seems to be gift giving! (old habits die hard). I did a little better with the teachers for the 2nd year by making a donation in their name to one of our favorite charities who serve orphans and vulnerable children. The funds will help fund the education for other children in a community where we have 2 kids we sponsor. I still did break down and give them a cute pen to remind them that the gift given in their name helps to ‘rewrite’ the story for these children.

    I still wrestle with how much environment is necessary to create the “mood”. Honestly, I’m no martha stewart. It’s easy enough for me to choose the red tablecloth instead of the blue one, but I’m secretly afraid that if I do too much decorating, it will make me nauseous, and nobody will want that clean-up job. I’ve let go of the Christmas tree decorating (it had become a fun tradition when the kids were younger to decorate the tree with the babysitter while mommy and daddy were on their date night… it was actually a pretty sweet deal all around). Now that they’re a little older, we have less babysitters, less date nights, and less ornaments ;-)

    We keep coming back to the fact that it was the wise men who brought gifts TO Jesus. I’m ok with birthday gifts, but we really shouldn’t be receiving presents for Christmas because we have already received the ultimate gift when Jesus was born. We really live when we let Him live in us, in our family, in our homes.

    I think I’ll spend more time on the floor… playing with my kids, and praying that we can truly create the space to allow God’s HOLY nature to fill our days. We pray for this on Christmas and all our days.

    Bless you, and thank you!!! May your family and your home be filled with JOY as you watch miracle after miracle unfold with your son. This is the hope… this is the promise :-) May your coffee cup runneth over with blessings!


    • Andrea Ferrell

      Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement, Millie. Sending blessings.

  • Alexandra

    Beautiful post! You should hop on over to visit our family– Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, Russian Christmas, Old Russian New Year’s…. Even in the midst of it all, the Lord is there. He is our equalizer, and stabilizer, and centerpiece. We can only do what we feel up to– and “scaled back” will not scar us for life! :)

    • Andrea Ferrell

      Your family sounds wonderful! Old Russian New Year? Tell me more!

  • chy

    Amen! It’s so hard. I find worshipping God is so important but our world worships spending money on stuff we can’t even afford! Ugh…

    • Andrea Ferrell

      Oh, so true, don’t get me started. Thanks for reading!

  • Carrie Wood

    Love the post, totally agree! Hate all the junk. Hate worrying about money, not having enough or spending enough. Hate worrying about picking out the right gift that no one will remember where it came from in a week. I just want some face time with my kids!

    • Andrea Ferrell

      Yes, Carrie. Yes!

  • Bobo

    Proud of the Daughter of God you have become. Hope we can be better Grandparents for God’s gifts to you.

    • Andrea Ferrell

      Better grandparents? Nope, not possible. I love you, Daddy.

  • Mandy W

    Lovely written! I too have let a lot of “tradition” go to be able to make my life more sane. We brought home two daughters from Ethiopia almost four years ago and Christmas has never been the same. I hated to write that sentence. What once used to be a magical time is now more work. Every holiday party and event causes one of the girls to go into a manic fit, which ends up being a huge drain on the whole familly. The other daughter feels depressed around the holidays and pulls back. I know she is just struggling with feeling guilty for enjoying herself with another family (they were 6 and 8 when they came home). This year she is enjoying herself more, but still won’t pose in a family picture :( We’ve scaled back to help with this. I wish my kids saw the twinkle in my eyes too. I hope it comes back someday.

  • Jackie F

    As a follow up…. My sweet husband put our tree up today. :) 12/24/11

  • Susan @

    Fantastic post, articulating so much of what I’ve begun to feel (with younger kids and none yet adopted, though here’s hoping). I want it to be meaningful, but there’s no way for it not to be stressful and over-full, trying to get there. You unpacked this catch 22 so well. And your reasons, especially, are so poignant, powerful, and “Bigger Picture” (in all the right ways).
    I so appreciated this. Thank you.

  • Allison Watermeier

    Andrea, I am just now reading this and want you to know that you are an amazing mother and woman… what you have done is more than I could do. I can only imagine how hard it must be to juggle all 3 little ones with homeschooling, a child with special needs, and still focusing on Jesus the way you are. Brady (my 6 year-old) had/has some sensory issues and I thought he would never be the same. We moved from Birmingham, AL to Sydney, AU back to Atlanta before we realized there was anything going on. I’m here if you want to talk… just know that you are in my prayers and I am with you, sister! Let’s keep in touch. I miss you and am so happy to see that you are doing so well. Hang in there, Mama.