I’m going to be real with you here. Whenever I see posts about simplifying or slowing down Christmas, I feel like crying. Because to be honest, the Christmas season is never NOT busy or fast-paced.
It’s not that I’m upset with the people who write these articles, in fact it’s quite the opposite! I WISH I could slow down and really enjoy the days leading up to my favorite holiday and sit and sip hot chocolate while listening to Bing Crosby in front of the fireplace for days on end.
But if I take an honest look at my December calendar, I am assured that peaceful bliss I am hoping for is not. going. to. happen.
Does your mind feel rushed and stressed when you think about Christmas time? Are you like me and trying to tell yourself that you’ll get everything done early but feel in the back of your mind that things will be just the same as they are every year? No time to slow down and savor, no time to just rest. No opportunity to get your Christmas shopping done early because every night brings another event, concert, program or party?
You know, like that Sunday School Christmas pageant you have to bake 6 dozen cookies for in two weeks? That one already has me ready to throw in the towel!
Perhaps, though, there’s some sort of middle ground we can find this year. An intentional way of approaching Christmas that will allow us all to do two things:
- Realize that the Christmas season will be busy and embrace that undeniable fact.
- Find moments within the craziness to just pause and enjoy the blessings of this time of year.
This is what I’ve purposed to do, and I hope you’ll do it along with me. I’m taking pieces of advice that have been helpful in other areas of my life and seeking to apply them to this last month of the year. Let’s talk about four ways we can embrace the craziness of the Christmas season and still find time to enjoy it!
4 Ways to Embrace the Craziness of the Christmas Season and Still Enjoy It
Recognize that Christmas comes with busyness, and the reasons why. When I just had one young child, there wasn’t a whole lot to do in December beyond attending a Christmas program at church, writing up a Christmas letter and wrapping a few gifts.
With four kids, an at-home business to manage and a husband whose work schedule as a pastor is all over the place? Let’s just say it this way: A friend asked me the other day if I still wrote a Christmas letter to send with my easy-as-possible photo cards….and I laughed really hard ;)
The more people and occasions that are added to our schedule during the holiday season, the more crazy it’s going to be. Sometimes we need to choose to say NO to good things that will keep us from enjoying the best things. But sometimes there are events and to-dos that we have no control over. What then?
Take a few minutes to write down a Christmas budget, if nothing else but to organize your thoughts. The “budget” I’m talking about is not only to do with money, but also with budgeting your TIME. If you subscribe via email to my blog, you’ll instantly get a free printable Christmas Budget Planner, with spaces for writing down ideas for gifts, events you have going on (and whether you’ll say no or yes), and ideas for ways to serve and give back.
I truly believe that for those of us who are busy during this season, doing a “brain dump” of sorts will help us see everything that’s in front of us and give us courage and purpose in embracing the fast-paced month ahead and deciding how we can fit in what means the most.
But before you download that printable, let’s talk about that last thing I mentioned: finding ways to serve with your family.
Talk with your family about how you can bless others this holiday season–and do it! I’m the first to admit I often over-plan and then never actually get to many of the things on my lists. But one thing that my family has been intentional about keeping on our list the last few years is picking some charities to contribute to and also tangible ways to serve others at Christmastime.
There are so many different ways to help! Here are 7 ideas:
- Bless a family who is struggling financially with gifts at Christmas. If you don’t know anyone personally, many local social service agencies have projects that you can be a part of that accomplish that same thing.
- Make a purchase from the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas catalog. You can “buy” someone in a disadvantaged part of the world anything from a goat to a week’s worth of food to a mosquito net.
- Purchase needed supplies for a local shelter. We have a domestic violence shelter that we buy for each year.
- Ring the Salvation Army kettle.
- Volunteer at a shelter to serve a meal.
- Sing Christmas carols at a nursing home.
- Donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Research hospital, the Ronald McDonald house or another organization that is similar in nature. We have a five year old son Jude, so he thinks it’s fun to give his dollars to the hospital that bears his name :)
It is really amazing to see how our children’s eyes have been opened up to the needs of others around the world through serving and giving. They realize how blessed they are, and become more grateful. And gratefulness leads to generosity!
Take a few moments during your days to just rest and recognize your blessings. Easier said than done, right? But this is a concept I learned while reading Hands Free Life, which isn’t specifically about Christmas but about all of life’s crazy days. The author mentions just stopping yourself at moments during each day where you feel the urge to capture a memory and simply enjoy it. Then you return to what needs to be done (often with a better attitude!).
I’ve been practicing this discipline, and it truly has helped me as a busy woman whose mind never stops running! As a mom, it’s helped me reflect on the personalities of my kids (and appreciate them) and as I dive into the Christmas season, it’s helped me savor the special moments of this time of year–tree lights, Christmas carols and family traditions. Maybe you’ll find this same practice to be helpful for you.
Start a meaningful Advent tradition with your kids that gives you a specific way to reflect on the birth of Christ. There are so many free and low-cost Advent devotional ideas and also the fun idea of reading a book about Christmas each day of December (or, like I’m going to share about in my next post, for 12 days before Christmas). Anything that gives you the opportunity to have more Jesus in your Christmas is a meaningful pursuit, especially when it’s so easy for the reason why we celebrate to get crowded out!
To help you with this, I created a free Advent Calendar banner with Scripture verses for each day of Advent that you can print out and use with your family! You’ll get that (and the Christmas budget planner and all my subscriber freebies) when you subscribe via email at this link or in the box below the post!
I hope that you’ve found some encouragement here to help you embrace with purpose what will most certainly be a busy time of year and actually enjoy it despite the craziness, not expecting perfection but instead pursuing joy!
Blessings to you this season!