Thanksgiving is behind us, and Christmas will be here before we know it. I am already exhausted just thinking about it. Is anyone caught in that place where you are wondering – “Can we please just skip Christmas?”
As I sit here organizing my long Christmas to-do list, gifts to buy and people to see, I am wondering how on earth I can add more to my already overtaxed schedule. As I get down to the 99th item, I realize
only one item on the entire list has to do with Jesus – decide what Christmas Eve service we will attend?
Of course, there were things on the list that God would be proud of but I can’t help but think something has got to be wrong with how we do Christmas.
I want it to be different this year. I don’t want to be asking, “Can we please just skip Christmas?”
I want to remember why keeping things simple is better. How simple allows for so much more like making Jesus the reason for the season and connecting with God’s people.
I am embarrassed to admit in my 30+ years of being an adult, I have probably only succeeded a small number of times at making the month of December what it is meant to be. Let me tell you about the year I discovered how the season could be.
Over the summer before Christmas, I read a fantastic book called,
The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lisa Terkeurst.
No, it is not a Christmas book but boy did it change my life that Christmas and beyond. It is one of those books that transformed my life not just at Christmas but also all through the year.
Before reading the book, I was a “yes” kind of girl even when it was detrimental to my own well-being. If someone had a need, want, or desire and asked, my answer was usually “yes.”
So I set out that distinct Christmas determined things needed to be different. I thought of it as an experiment to see if the principles of the book would work during the holiday season.
So I decided that year, I would….
Give myself permission to disappoint others.
Say “no” more often than “yes.”
Attempt to keep things “simple.”
Strive to keep “Jesus” as the focus in my heart, mind, and soul.
Maybe that sounds easy to a few, but I have a hunch some of you can relate to the internal struggle of wanting to please others and going beyond what is healthy. Or maybe you make unrealistic to-do lists while striving for excellence in every single item.
Excellence is good but not when it tips over into perfectionism that robs us of joy.
Then, of course, some of us nominate “ourselves” as the responsible party to make sure everyone loves the holidays. But guess what year after year we find out…
Pleasing Everyone Is Impossible!
Like me, you may have found out that all of these things mixed with the holidays can make for a stressed out, overwhelmed, and unenjoyable month for everyone around, including myself.
So this particular year with a new mindset I discovered a few things.
- Costco has some excellent ready-made food.
- Stick on bows or maybe even none at all is okay.
- Christmas Day is incredible spent at home in pajamas. (It was the first one in my entire life)
- Serving a formal dinner in slippers is comfy.
- China is beautiful but not necessary.
- Garland on the stairs can be skipped.
- Decorations can be simplified.
- Two – Christmas to-do lists are necessary – One list of must do’s and another for- if time allows and it brings joy.
- Lowering expectations doesn’t diminish the celebration.
- That the “should do” items on the list need to be removed.
Don’t get me wrong; I love doing extra’s and traditions, but when that begins feeling like a chore maybe it is time to rethink what I am doing.
So are you wondering if I disappointed others that year? Probably, but remember – I gave myself permission to do just that. Besides, if they were disappointed with my “no”, I bet my “yes” would not have met their approval either.
I can tell you this – the people in my immediate circle, the ones God entrusted to me, the ones that mattered the most, found Christmas to be one of their best ones with the new me. They found a person with a holiday spirit that promoted peace, joy and a love that was unhurried.
So this holiday season I encourage you to join me in not skipping Christmas but embracing what God intended it to be. It just might be a Christmas like one you never expected.
To do this try giving yourself permission to disappoint others, say “no” more often than “yes” to the things that bog you down, keep things simple, and most important – strive to keep “Jesus” as the focus of your heart and mind.
I would love to hear in the comments any tips you have for keeping advent in your soul, Jesus on your mind, and Christmas simple.