I shared these thoughts in the Hearts at Home eNews last week and I don’t usually repeat myself from the eNews to the blog. However, I thought this message is important enough to repeat for the handful of you who receive both publications and to share them with those of you who only receive my blog.

This will be my last “live” post until January 5. I’m taking a much-needed break for the holidays. During the break, I’ll be featuring the top posts of 2010 and it’s likely you’ll find one or two that you missed or you’ll be glad to be reminded of (like the “Yes Mom” post in the summer—that will come in handy for Christmas break!)

So Christmas is just around the corner. Do you have your baking done? Is your shopping finished? Do you have the house cleaned? Are you packed for traveling?

There are so many things to get done to “do” Christmas. Isn’t it time to let go of some of the expectations for a “perfect” Christmas and really enjoy this time with our families?

I’m issuing a challenge to myself to today, and to you if you want to take it, to drink in my relationships and let go of my “to do” list for this week. No my gifts aren’t all wrapped yet, but I’ve got a few gifts to give that can’t be wrapped.

I want to give the gift of listening today. I want to make sure that when my children and my husband speak to me, I look into their eyes. I want them to feel that they are special. I don’t want anyone to feel like they are in the way of what I need to do. They are what I need to do. Lord, let me give the gift of listening today.

I want to give the gift of time today. When my 14 year old asks me to play music with him, I’m going to stop what I am doing to play with him. I once heard the convicting response of a young girl when asked what kind of message she would give to parents from a child’s point of view. She responded, “Parents have too many tomorrows. Tomorrow I’ll play ball with you. Tomorrow we’ll bake cookies together. Tomorrow I will play that game. Most of the time tomorrow never comes. Lord, let me give the gift of time today.

I want to give the gift of touch today. Have you ever gone through the day or the week and realized that you really haven’t given out any hugs lately? People have the need to touch and be touched. Our children and teens need hugs from mom and dad daily. I’m going to make sure that my husband gets a bear hug today. When my daughter comes in to tell me a story, I will try to remember to touch her as we interact. Lord, let me give the gift of touch today.

I want to give the gift of encouragement today. I want to make sure I tell my 16-year-old son how much I appreciate the responsibility he has been taking on lately. I want my 14-year-old son to know that I think he has been doing well playing guitar on the worship team. I want my husband to know I greatly appreciate how hard he works to support our family. Sometimes the people we live with receive the least verbal encouragement from us. Lord, let me give the gift of encouragement today.

I want to give the gift of grace today. When my teenagers aren’t as excited about decorating Christmas cookies as I want them to be, let me give them grace and respond with love instead of anger. When my husband doesn’t clean up the kitchen in the way I was hoping he would, let me respond with grace—seeing what he did rather than what he didn’t do. Life-giving grace is about allowing others to be human—to make mistakes without the fear of relationship-robbing anger as the response. Lord, let me give the gift of grace today.

I want to give the gift of Jesus today. Since we are celebrating His birthday, I want to make sure that we invite Him to the celebration. When I’m tempted to skip that Christmas Eve service because I still have too much to do, I will resist that temptation, gather the family, and make sure we take time to worship together. Lord, let me give the gift of Jesus today.

Yes, Christmas is days away. The gifts aren’t all wrapped, the food isn’t all prepared, and my family will arrive soon. Some things need to be accomplished today. But I want to do it with my family, not for them. I want to give them the kinds of gifts that can’t be placed in a box and wrapped in red and green paper.

Come on, join me. Fix yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sit down, put your feet up, and gaze at the Christmas tree lights for a few minutes. Think about the incredible blessings God has given to you. Thank Him. Ponder the gifts that can be given today that don’t need to be wrapped. Lord, thank you for the gift of family you have given to me.

Merry Christmas,

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