I’ve decided I’m not going to decorate for Christmas anymore. I made the mistake of putting up our tree with the kids last weekend, and it was a disaster. While I’d love to be instilling happy memories for the kids in our annual Christmas decorating, I’m afraid the opposite could well be true. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that there was much fighting, and in the end we had two broken ornaments and two children in tears. So much for quality family time. Who needs this, anyhow? So I’m done. No more decorating for me.

You know, come to think of it, family mealtime is another thing that’s not worth it. Our dinner conversations are usually quite loud, often with people shouting over each other to be heard. Our kindergartner slides off her chair to pet the cat. Our two-year-old shrieks for more milk and throws food on the ground. Our middle school boys argue. It’s pretty chaotic. Really, why am I bothering? It would be so much easier to just let them eat on the couch in front of the TV and forget about this farce of family meals.

And church! Good grief, what about church? Why bother to take young kids to church? My husband is the pastor, so who gets to sit in the pews with them every week? Me. Just me. Yes, the older ones are old enough now to behave and participate on their own, but sakes alive, my toddler gives me a run for my money! By the time church is over, I feel like I’ve been through a wrestling match with a two-year-old and come out on the losing end. There have been countless services where I’ve come home mad or feeling like I didn’t get anything out of church that day. Why am I doing this to myself?

Sigh. Who am I kidding? Although decorating for Christmas may not be fun, it’s hardly something I can choose not to do. Putting ornaments on the tree is a family tradition. My kids would be crushed if they didn’t get to do that. My toddler would be bummed if he couldn’t plug in the lights every evening. Now that it’s done, it really does look pretty, with the lights glowing in a semi-dark room. And most important (to the kids), without a tree, where would we put the presents? Overall, while the actual process of stringing lights and hanging ornaments isn’t always pleasant and gets sorta messy, the end results are totally worth it.

I suppose I’d better not give up on family dinners, either. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of family mealtime. Eventually (I hope!) we’ll be able to have a polite conversation with everyone exhibiting good table manners. But in the meantime, we’re establishing the fact that family meals are important for us, even if that isn’t always an enjoyable process.

And while we’re at it, I’d better not stop taking the kids to church. I know that my two-year-old won’t be two forever. Before I know it, he’ll be quoting the Lord’s Prayer and Apostles’ Creed with us. Eventually he’ll be able to read and follow along in the hymnal. And yes, the time will come when I’ll actually be able to listen to an entire sermon again. He’ll grow up knowing that church is a priority to our family. If I’d waited until my kids were all old enough to behave in church, it would be too late. Then my 13-year-old still wouldn’t be going to church. And by that point, why bother at all? 

Fellow parents, there will be weeks, even years, when you might feel dejected and want to give up taking your kids to church. You might be tempted to think it’s not worth the hassle; that you aren’t getting anything out of church and neither are your kids. But don’t fall for that lie! God is blessing your children–His children–with the gift of faith, and He has promised that His Word will never return to Him void. So don’t give up. Keep bringing your kids to church and Sunday School. Tell them about Jesus every chance you get. Make sure they know about His perfect life, His innocent death, and His glorious resurrection. Show them by word and deed that your faith is so important to you that you won’t let their bad behavior deter you from hearing God’s Word. And eventually, a funny thing will happen. Your kids will grow up and take their kids to church. 

And in the meantime, I guess I’ll go set up the nativities with the kids.