When I first got married, I learned very quickly that Christmas happens in my home because I make it happen. My husband loves Christmas too, and definitely turns into Clark Griswold at some point during the season, but other than the outdoor lights, most of the season’s tasks, as I soon discovered, fell on me.

Now, my mom was the Christmas queen. She decorated her house for Christmas: beautifully, in every nook and cranny. She didn’t work outside the home, mostly due to two things: that generation of women weren’t encouraged too much to pursue a career and because my dad was a traveling evangelist who was gone a lot. She traveled and sang with him as much as possible but they had decided that her priority needed to be keeping the home fires burning as much as possible.

So, with her artistic gifts and her flare for decorating, our house and halls were decked. The food was amazing and the goodies were to die for! That was my model for making Christmas happen.

When Tim and I first got married, I was actually going to college as well as working two part-time jobs. I look back now and don’t know how that worked, but somehow we managed. We had a small home and not much in the way of Christmas decorations yet, so it was not a big deal to fit in some decorating and cooking every now and then. We also did not have Christmas at our house – we still went home to Missouri or Oklahoma for Christmas.

As we began to have children, we stayed home more for Christmas day.  We wanted to have our own family traditions, and our own church began having Christmas Eve services, which we were responsible for—my husband was the pastor. We would still go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, but it was usually a day or two later.

Then, around the time Becca, our youngest child, turned one, I began leading worship at our church, part-time. Once again, my Christmas experience changed! I became the planner and producer of our little congregation’s Christmas Eve services (on top of all the December services that happen all month). In the beginning, I was only working about ten hours a week but that increased year after year, and soon our Christmas Eve services became an important evangelistic tool for our families in our community. So keeping the plates spinning became very tricky. Anyone relate?

Life today is different. In spite of all our “time-saving” gadgets, I believe it’s crazier and busier than ever before. And with many of us women working or volunteering outside the home, in the month of December a woman can especially go crazy!

So this month on my blog, I am going to offer a few suggestions that helped me keep my sanity (as much as possible), and blessed my family, during the month of December. I will be posting a couple of ideas and suggestions each week (along with some funny stories), and I pray you will find something useful in your ministries, family, and life, to take and use.

In the meantime, I want to tell you a funny, yet personally traumatic, story: one year Santa Claus forgot to come to our house!!  Actually, poor Santa had lost his mind this particular year. You see, “he” had the girls’ presents all ready, and, thanks to grandma, the stockings had been filled. He just forgot to leave those good little Harlow girls any presents! Not even coal! You see, our church had just added another Christmas Eve service, probably doing three that year, and this mom was exhausted. So before leaving for the final and latest Christmas Eve service with my husband, after my girls were in bed, I left stocking stuffers for grandma to fill.  But in my fatigue when we got home late, I just forgot about the Santa presents. The next morning when we all came downstairs (yes, we made our girls wait at the top of the stairs so we could enjoy seeing their expressions and reactions), our three little girls saw the stockings bulging and that Santa had eaten the cookies and milk, but where were the presents? UH-OH!

My husband was behind the video camera, I wish you could see it. All of the sudden in the background you see my exhausted, granny-robed, no makeup, face show shock with the realization of what I had forgotten!

My husband is quick on his feet when getting out of a jam, possibly from vast experience. He jumps in and says “Maybe Santa put them under the wrong tree, wait here, I’ll check.”  (By this time, my mother’s Christmas obsession had rubbed completely off on me and I had two trees!)

Tim took off and ran up the stairs to where I had them hidden and put them under the other tree in the “nick” of time! “Oh silly Santa, he put them in here!”

After that experience, I cried “Uncle” and we hired more worship staff! And this weary mom made some changes in her future Christmases!

Has anything ever happened like that to you?
What is the funniest or craziest thing that has happened because you tried to do too much at Christmas?
Please share!

And let’s all remember, the stable that Jesus was born in, wasn’t elaborate…in fact, it was the simplest of simple. So let’s try to keep that in mind when we get carried away this Christmas!

Happy December and happy planning!

The Scatter-brained Santa