A few years ago the Ricki Lake Show called me. I thought I made it big as a blogger but turns out I didn’t hate Christmas enough to make it big. They were doing a show on hating Christmas and my blog caught their eye.

I reposted the Why I Hate Christmas blog this week. It’s still relevant, but five years later I don’t have the same feelings I did then.

  • Perhaps it’s because I’m not buying random “stuff” anymore. My Bigs send me links to gifts they really want or can use.
  • Perhaps it’s because we’re less busy. I don’t have multiple Christmas parties to buy for and holiday programs to sit through (I’m the mom who really never liked them).
  • Perhaps we’ve mellowed at the commercialism of the holiday.

But I know the real reason.

It’s because all I really care about is seeing my kids, even though we may only have one day or evening where we will all be together. The college baller will be at practices, the married kids will only be here half the time, and the high schooler will have social gatherings. But my missionary girl will be home. They’ll all be together, just hanging out. For at least one night, all of the beds will be full again. And that’s the only gift I want.

A shift has  is happening during this season of fledging my kids. My priorities and expectations are changing. Raising kids to fly from the nest means they follow God’s dreams, not mine. It means I step back so they can fly, even if it takes them far away.

On Christmas Day, 2008, my oldest was 17 and went on a mission trip to a Mexican orphanage. The experience gave her a heart for orphans and vulnerable children. While in college, she spent several months at an orphanage in Guatemala, which changed her forever. She’s now a full time missionary in Monterrey, Mexico, where she is serving orphans with Back2Back ministries.

Mexico is her home now. And it’s where she’s supposed to be. She has fledged far and strong, and I’ve grown to accept it. She’s healthy and happy, and that means a lot.

In the busyness of holidays and another school year, it’s easy to lose the perspective that raising kids is for a lifetime, not just for the high school experience. The goal isn’t the latest gadget or to be homecoming queen. It’s to be a healthy adult.

A lot of parents of college age and young adult children have been and are walking rough roads with their kids. Their kids may or may not be home for Christmas because of toxic relationships, addiction, mental health complications, or because of estranged relationships. Some will be home this Christmas but have walked away from the faith.

Not all kids who fledge reach their destination right away. For many, the process is long and hard.

This Christmas, my gift will not only be seeing my kids together, but seeing each of them at healthy places. I don’t take that status for granted. And I don’t assume it’s always going to be that way.

Raising and releasing kids is the hardest job I’ve ever done. There have been moments where I didn’t know if we’d make it. Perhaps you’ve had moments like that, or are living that moment this Christmas. 

Fledging is a multilayered process of letting go, holding on, changing priorities and expectations of our relationships with our kids so that they find their way in life in the healthiest way possible. It doesn’t happen at one moment in time. And it means some holidays aren’t Instagram moments.

So this Christmas, I’ll be the awkward mom gawking at the gifts in front of me. They all are walking with Jesus. They love each other. Their dad and I are still together. We have made it through 2017 without a catastrophic event in our family’s life.

These are all gifts. You have these gifts, too. If you’ve had things for which to be thankful in 2017, consider these the greatest gifts.

That’s why I don’t hate Christmas anymore. The greatest gifts can’t be bought. They are the people we love the most.

I hope you grab the gift in front of you this holiday. And if you’re in the season of raising, releasing, or a new empty-nester, you can preorder a copy of Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind, endorsed by Jim Daly of Focus on the Family. It releases March 13.

And mark your calendars for Saturday evening, March 17, 6-9 pm, for a women’s event in Shipshewana, IN–The Faith Gathering, where four women will share real stories of authentic faith about all of the above–having faith in all circumstances as we give wings to fledge our family and futures into God’s hands. This “letting go and letting God” thing is not for wimps. Watch my Facebook page and blog posts for more details.

 

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