At this time of year, as the calendar accelerates toward the holidays, I’ve been known to lose my footing. I never decided to over extend us financially, but I couldn’t decide if it was enough. You know, enough gifts, enough money, enough magic. I didn’t want to wake up on Christmas morning feeling hung over from too much… everything. Too many cookies, too much rich food, too many late nights and early mornings, and too many parties, events, and outings. I didn’t want my children to groan, “No mom, not pizza again.” I didn’t want to wish away the wonder of the season, but the pace and scope of my expectations pressed in until I felt crushed by them. I didn’t want to be crabby and cross with the people I love best, but I was pulled thin across too much and they were the ones who came up empty.
I wanted to create Christmas magic. I wanted to snuggle close with my children while they were still little. I wanted to enjoy the tiny moments and the big sweeping vista of my life. I wanted to make time to linger under the twinkle lights with the man I love. I wanted to tuck my little ones into their beds with real prayers. I wanted to celebrate with friends and family. I wanted my house to smell like sugar plums and Sunday dinner. I wanted them all to be happy. I wanted to orchestrate the perfect holiday.
Some years, I did better than others. I learned and adapted over time. I let some things go and made commitments to sanity. Time continued to march forward. We (mostly) kept the tree vertical with three little one’s conspiring against me. We hustled through holiday concerts, Christmas Cantatas, and candle light service with my mini-van full of school aged kids. We made it through the seasons with grumbly teenagers, group projects, and finals just before the holidays. These days, we are learning how to add stockings and new expectations to the mix.
Now, we are again heading into the holiday with a little one leading the way, and I have another chance. I have a new opportunity to focus on what matters, on the people who matter most. I am all in for this. And yet, I want to be sure I don’t just replay the many years of being swept up in the fray. So, I am taking some time now before things get out of hand and thinking about what I want out of this holiday season.
This year, I want to keep things simple. Starting with my calendar, extending to the menu, and the gift list. I am running my plans though the filter of how will this help us be more connected? I want to lower the stress, and create space for low pressure fun. This season seems to wind us all up and my hope is to slow it down and let things settle a bit.
This year, I want to focus on people. I’m determined not to get caught up in the gifting craziness. I made my list in October and I am sticking to it. Surely, there will be awkward moments when someone has a kindness I can’t repay. I’m going to receive it as graciously as I can, and then bless them. It is enough.
This year, I want to bring calm to the holidays. It’s so easy for me to get overwhelmed with the to do list and the expectations, but I am determined to create space daily to care for my own soul and to be reminded of the beauty and simplicity of the true gift of Christmas. I am determined to reject the hustle and carve out time to settle my heart in Him.
What about you? As the days get darker and the countdown brings us ever closer, have you thought about what you want for this Christmas season? I hope you will take some time to think about what matters most to you this month, this year.
Maybe, you need a little more margin in your holidays.
Maybe, you long to slow down and enjoy the process more.
Maybe, you want to feel like you’re leading the holiday, rather running to catch it.
Take some time this week to really listen to the longings of you heart. Some years we need more celebration, other times more space for quiet reflection. Some years, sadness, grief, and change bring a settling gloom to even the most joyous of holidays. It’s okay to tell the truth about the challenges that this year brings. Your life is speaking, don’t let the noise around you drown out its wisdom.
I hope you will take some time to listen to your life and connect with the longing of your heart. What do you want to feel? What do you want to experience? What do you want to be sure to do? How do you want to celebrate?
With this information you could plan your calendar, your days, and your celebrations with a clear intention, and plan a Christmas season that leaves you overflowing with love, rather than drained by responsibility. Unless we chose another way, Christmas will continue to push us around with its never enough demands. What I want is to find the simple beauty in my actual days and to invite Emmanuel, God with us into my ordinary life.
What about you? What do you want?