I did what I said I wouldn’t do.  Last night I wasn’t enjoying the season.  I became annoyed with the clock.  It wouldn’t stop.  I needed more time to do the things that needed to be done.  Finally I realized that I was running out of time and was compelled to do the most pressing things.

I was an hour and a half late getting home because I had to make a large grocery store run to prepare for our get-together this weekend.  I did some stocking stuffer shopping, too.  I enjoyed the time in the store as I hummed along with the Christmas music in the background.

Once home, though, everything I needed to do flooded my mind and I slowly started to unravel.  My patience was missing and my family felt the impact of it.  In the midst of simplifying fractions, washing towels, looking for a Spanish II study guide, making peppermint bark, and embellishing goody bags, I missed some opportunities.

My sick teenaged son suffered in silence as I ran around trying to cross out some of the items on the “to do” list in my head.  My kids didn’t complain about my busyness but I know they would have enjoyed a little more attention and a lot more joy from me.

Ty would have liked for me to do more than ask him if he’d taken any Tylenol and I should have offered to help Blake study for her Spanish II midterm.  I did manage to help Brady with her math homework but she disapproved of my impatience as we worked her problems.

I neglected the essentials.

But I have to get things done.  How do I do them joyfully and generously?  How do I not turn into the Grinch by the time I pass out the beautifully decorated gifts or have the dinner on the table?

The answer is to learn what’s really important.  The ribbons on the package don’t have to be perfectly curled.  The house doesn’t have to be immaculate.  The food I serve does need to be tasty but everything doesn’t have to be homemade.

I will enjoy my family tomorrow morning as we gather for our Christmas brunch.  Not because I’ve spent hours cleaning the house or picked just the right bows for the gifts. And not because I’ve made homemade biscuits or cinnamon bread – frozen Mary B’s biscuits and Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls quartered and baked in a loaf pan are great substitutes for those.

It will be because most of the gifts under the tree were wrapped by my daughters and this year I didn’t fuss over perfect corners.  Or because Brady and I went out after dark last night and cut fresh greenery by flashlight to put in the house.  We laughed and laughed as I tried to make the right cuts while she tried to hold the flashlight steady.  It will be because instead of staying home today and fretting over the house and the breakfast  casserole we chose to hang out with my sister and her family for a while.

I’m taking care of the essentials.