Parenthood is one of those things we all want to get right and finish well. But, goodness gracious, the bar is set awfully high with gobs of unachievable Pinterest goals. And Christmas is no different—if you haven’t noticed.

I could scribble down a list of crafty holiday projects, creative advent calendars, yummy Christmas treats, and even a few design ideas that would rival the fabricated scenarios in a Pottery Barn Kids magazine.

But who wants one more thing to do? One more line added to the already overflowing demands? One more way to not measure up this holiday season?

Well, NOT ME.

But there is one thing at the top of my list; one thing I tell my kids (and myself) at Christmas…

See those twinkling lights shining on every rooftop? The sparkly tree in our living room? The emerald wreaths with merry-red bows? The chestnuts roasting on an open fire? (Okay, who really does that?) The snowflake sugar cookies? The gumdrop-covered gingerbread houses? The carefully wrapped presents? The cheery songs? The heavenly smells? The warm gatherings?

Every time you stop to enjoy one of these things, just remember: This is all one huge party for Jesus.

Birthdays are a big deal around our house, so this is lingo my kids can understand.

Christmas is not just a festive season or some random tradition. It’s ALL a big birthday celebration that points us back to Jesus’ humble birth, to that dusty stable, to the climax moment when a young mama’s labor pains turned into tears of joy as she held her new baby in the crook of her neck, cheek pressed against His little face, gratefully wondering about all the angel had told her regarding the miracle in her arms.

God often starts with small, but small things tend to grow.

Jesus left the glories of heaven and came to this busted ground as a tiny, ordinary babe. He grew strong in wisdom and stature. He was different from the others—carrying a unique perspective, unmatched knowledge, and a backwards kind of love. Then, He did something wild, giving up His life for those who didn’t even appreciate it. But He only borrowed the grave, defeating the most painful thing here on earth.

And He will make Himself known once again—to the entire world—at just the right time.

Why can we trust this? Because the Old Testament prophecies were exactly right about His first coming (read Isaiah 53), which leads me to believe that the many other predictions about “the end” will come true as well. Also, when someone forecasts their own death and resurrection, and successfully pulls it off? I’m going with that guy.

But why did He go to all that trouble? And why did He do it this particular way? Why didn’t He skip the mess and just smash through the sky as the reining and ruling King from the very beginning?

While the magnitude of His ways and His sacrifice still lie beyond our full grasp, we know that He did it for us. Because He loves us; because He couldn’t let us stay stuck in our brokenness—helpless to fix the situation on our own. And He did it so that the world would see His great power. 

This story isn’t over yet, but the plot certainly thickened when He entered that tumbledown stable on a dark, starry night. And isn’t it just like God to meet us right where we are?

So whatever you do…

Whether you turn your life upside down to have the most mischievous Elf on the Shelf in existence—or not. Whether you bring Santa into the mix—or not. Whether this Christmas is everything you dreamed it would be—or not. Whether you go big or go small or go somewhere in between.

If we forget everything else and absolutely nothing is perfect?

Let us remember that this is all for Him.