Joy – A feeling of great happiness or delight
Look up the word "Joy" in the concordance in your bible. Here are two:
Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
The first thing we have to do is get past what we think the season “should” look like. You know the magazine and movie pictures that come to your mind? Those need to go!! We get an idea in our minds of how things should be and when they don’t go that way we can feel angry and frustrated while also making those around us feel angry and frustrated.
Keep in mind constantly the Reason for the Season and that is that we are celebrating Jesus’ birth, not that our house looks just so, or that our sugar cookies are perfectly decorated. It is easy to get distracted during the Holiday Season and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and our family.
Don’t be Critical. If all the ornaments end up on one side of the tree or all around the bottom (this is usually what happens in our home) so be it. In the days leading up to Christmas you can gradually move some around without making a big deal and the kids usually don’t even notice. When putting out special Christmas decorations, make sure that the kids have some that are at their level to play with. Fisher Price has an awesome, hands on nativity set. The less you have to monitor your kids activity around the decorations, the better!!! You won’t feel like a parole officer and your kids won’t feel like they can’t touch anything.
Baking. Small batches and low expectations will keep everyone happy. If your child tends to overuse the icing to decorate, only give them the amount that they can use and take pictures of their creations so that they can see them long after the cookie has been eaten.
Gift Giving and Receiving. In our family all the siblings draw names on Thanksgiving Day for who they will buy or make a gift for to exchange on Christmas Day. This is a big deal and usually much more time is put into what they are going to give their person than on what they themselves would like to receive. Get your family involved in giving in your community through Adopt A Family, visiting a nursing home with goodie bags for the residents (you need to get permission from the facility first), making cards for soliders overseas, etc. By keeping them involved in giving, the receiving is not as important.
Sensory Challenges. Keep in mind your child’s ability to handle certain settings. If that means you will not be able to be able to stay long at a gathering prepare everyone that you will be leaving before the party is over. If this is hard for kids without sensory challenges you could make arrangements for one of your kids to be brought home by another family later or you can get a sitter for your child/children with the sensory challenges so that you can all stay and enjoy.
The Family Dinner. The dinner that we put so much time into and what can be a huge tradition in most families can turn into a big argument. If your child is totally opposed to eating “that yucky stuff” make them something ahead of time and let them do another activity during the main meal. It will not be the end of the world if they are not sitting around the table. Decorate the kids table just as fancy as the adult table. We use sparkling grape juice for holiday dinners. The kids get small wine glasses for their juice. Make place cards for the dinner in the days leading up to Christmas. Make them easy so that the kids and you feel successful.
Enjoy each other. God created and grew our families according to His will. He will give us wisdom in how to keep the peace and joy in our homes through the season. We just need to make sure that while we are busy preparing that we don’t leave God out of our activities.