A Note from Chris Adams: My friend, Dr. Deb Douglas (First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA), truly knows how to laugh at life and even at herself. I believe she does it because her life is so hard at times, joy totally restores her. As I’ve watched Deb live life now for almost 20 years, I’ve seen her navigate some really tough situations, yet she has never lost her faith or her sense of humor. She takes it in stride and watches to see what God is teaching. Then, she uses her experiences to teach others about Him! Enjoy this article as you enjoy our joyous Christ this week!
I can almost smell the turkey as it deflates in the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It is not a pleasant Christmasy smell, but it is a glimpse of how a perfect Christmas can deflate into a disaster with one little thing, or in Clark Griswold’s case, a lot of messy things.
Right now, there are women in every church, every community, and every home stressed to the max trying to create the perfect Christmas. And all of these women are one little candy cane away from their house of Christmas cards coming tumbling down!
The reality is that the perfect Christmas is NOT going to happen. When we strive for perfection, we often end up with messy! A messy Christmas can haunt us like the ghosts of Christmas past, but prevention is possible. We can help women in the midst of a messy Christmas. No, we do not need to slap them with a dose of reality, but a few wise words can help!
Here are a few ideas to help you and the women you lead find freedom from Christmas messiness:
- Order a smoked turkey, ham—or whatever! Last year, I decided our family’s Christmas would be perfect if we boiled lobsters. I love lobsters. I’d never boiled lobsters before, but I thought it wouldn’t be much different than a Louisiana crawfish or shrimp boil. I did not know it was possible to drown lobsters! Lesson learned: go out to dinner or order out!
- If cooking must happen, keep it simple. Plan to prepare foods that are easy and reasonably priced. Foods that you’ve had success with in the past are perfect for Christmas! Consider grilling out. Steaks, hamburgers, chicken, or whatever is a favorite. Plus, the leftover coals from grilling can be used to make s’mores!
- Be gracious. Christmas is stressful; stressful situations bring out the worst in all of us. Be willing to give grace to the aunt with the blunt mouth, the grandmother with no tact, or the mean cousin with the jealous streak. Being gracious requires getting prayed up in advance.
- Stay focused on Jesus! Before opening gifts, read the Christmas story. Use a nativity scene in doing so. Hold each piece and share its role in the story.
- Pray before opening gifts. Allow everyone present to pray if they desire. No pressure to pray.
And the most important thing we can do? Do not forget to laugh! My husband worked for a company that employed a large number of people from India. We invited these families to join us in our celebration because they were far from their families.
I made a vegan meal, a vegetarian meal, and a traditional Christmas meal in order to accommodate everyone. Because we were grilling parts of the meals outside, our home became cold. I decided to light the gas fireplace. Unfortunately, I was not focused on the task at hand. I allowed the gas to run too long before igniting.
When I threw in the match, there was a great whooooshhhh! The fire rushed out of the fireplace…and on to me. The resulting fire caught my hair on fire. With this great crowd of people watching, my daughter beat out the flames as I screamed, “My hair! My hair!”
My daughter-in-law laughed with her whole body. I couldn’t help but laugh too! What could have ruined the idea of an American Christian Christmas for our visitors became a favorite memory. We replay this story each year. Oh, and I’ve not attempted to light the gas fireplace since.
Christmas is a time of joy. Laugh a lot! The messier the Christmas, the more opportunities there are for laughter!
Merry Mirth-filled Messy Christmas!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.