Over this past weekend, I attended an event that was advertised as an ‘immersive Nutcracker’. Ticket holders were ushered into a large, open space with two ‘not-for-climbing-on’ silver art structures in the middle, a few benches along the walls, and children running (literally) back and forth and climbing on the not-for-climbing-on structures. “OK, I’m not in charge of the children so I can sit back, relax, and enjoy,” I thought.
Then the show began.
We were ‘immersed’ into a video displaying on each of the grand walls and spilling onto the floor, while dazzling, flashing lights and imagery surrounded us. The music boomed in a way that I doubt Tchaikovsky would have chosen, many children continued running around because, well, open floor space. The storyline didn’t follow the traditional tale, as the video displayed sensory-intrusive, flashing giant snowflakes mixed into scenes from a techno cartoon.
I felt like I was in a giant screensaver.
Where do I focus my attention? On the sweet 3-year old running up to her parents and flashing a thumbs-up before running off again into the darkness? On the flashing wall display? How is the wine that couple is drinking (and how much does it cost)?
It was a cacophonic atmosphere that was anything but relaxing.
Oh wait, is that an exit sign over there?
Sensory overload won out and my companions and I gathered our things and made like kids, practically running toward the escape light of the exit sign. We were disappointed because we had anticipated a Christmas-y, not a chaos-y event.
Yet, isn’t that how the entire Christmas season can be?
Hoping for that Christmas-y feel but ending up feeling stress as we’re pulled in many directions? We can get so caught up in preparing for that one day – December 25 – by letting chaos dominate December 1st through 24th. We don’t always know where to focus our attention and it steals our inner peace.
That’s why we need God’s peace – the peace that is beyond our understanding.
It’s hard to feel God’s peace in the clamor
As a parent and former preschool teacher, I know that kids pick up our ‘vibe’. They perceive our emotions. New research finds that when parents suppress feelings of stress around their kids they can actually transmit those feelings to their children (Journal of Family Psychology, 2020).
So then, the opposite must hold true: if we are experiencing peace (the opposite of stress), then peace will be transmitted to our children, right?
Choose peace over chaos
We can experience, share, and receive peace. We can help our children to have peace. Advent is a great time to help your child learn about the peace of God. Parents, we can choose to set a tone that says peace, over chaos.
How do you want to prepare for Christmas?
I see two choices:
- full of hustle, bustle, overspending, stress, chaos, sprinkled with parties and immersive loud events, or
- the better choice: preparing our hearts for Christmas and modeling peace through prayer, family time-togetherness, and focusing on Christ.
It’s not ‘oh humbug!’
Parties are fun. Giving and receiving gifts feels good. Enjoy Christmas events (like our upcoming Jazz Music Event on Dec 16 at 7PM)
Let’s remember that making/taking time to be immersed in God’s peace is priceless. This is the peace that Jesus offers – peace with God, peace of God, and peace with each other.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7
Exit from chaos
God promises a peace that actually stands as a guard over our hearts and minds. When we feel and display peace, our kids can sense and embrace it, too. Make some space in your personal calendar and your family schedule to enjoy this season of preparation. The advent, or arrival, of the Prince of Peace is your exit from chaos.
PS: Tip: If you see advertisements for an immersive Nutcracker, scroll on by. 🙂
Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!2 Thessalonians 3:16
Family Ministry Director
Community Congregational Church