PICK ONE

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by Beth Ann Morgan

Christmas cards. Cookie baking. Wrapping gifts. Trimming the tree . . . the list seems to go on and on. When one feels already overwhelmed by the everyday tasks dictated by survival mode, preparing for a holiday you may or may not feel like celebrating can leave a person befuddled to the point of doing absolutely nothing.

My recommendation? Pick one.

Keeping things as simple as possible is sometimes the best thing you can do to love your family during a difficult time. Perhaps in years past, you’ve spent your holidays like mine, steeped in tradition and wonderful memories, all things you’d love to pass on to your children.

Maybe this year things are different. Your husband is gone. Funds are dwindling. A little one’s in the hospital clinging to life. Close friends or family recently moved out of the area and won’t be able to make it back to be with you this year, a time when you need them most.

Whatever your circumstances, I recommend picking one tradition you want to keep and starting there. We chose the Christmas tree. Grandma baked our cookies for us and cards didn’t go out, but we decorated our tree. We used to go to a beautiful Christmas tree farm and spend an afternoon with axe in hand, riding the wagon, drinking hot chocolate in the cozy craft shop.

My heart broke the first year I realized it wouldn’t happen.

We had dreaded Christmas and knew it would soon come upon us. John had spent about six weeks in the hospital and faced another surgery, which meant at least three more weeks of recovery. We all secretly hoped he could come home for Christmas but didn’t dare voice it.

He didn’t make it home until February 21st.

Hannah had wanted to wait for John to get our tree, but the day came when we had to tell her that we would have to get the tree without him. We all cried. It was hard to let go of a memory we so wanted to make, one that would never be

And this year, there was no fancy tree farm outing – we had to stop at Home Depot because it was right off our hospital commute exit. I was afraid Hannah would completely meltdown, but to our great surprise, she allowed herself a smile, walked up to a Douglas Fir, and called out, “This one!”

We took it home, decorated it, and even though the entire process was far from ideal, she was happy. There would be years ahead to decorate with frills and fuss over details, but that particular year, “picking one” met Hannah’s need to keep an important tradition and our parental need to make our daughter feel special. Best of all, it gave us the energy and freedom to focus on the most important things, the love of our family and the birth of our Savior.

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