How much will you say “yes” to this season? Will you be worn out and stressed by the time Christmas gets here? Will you run yourself and your family ragged trying to do everything and be everything?
As much as I love Christmas and all its trappings, it does always seem to be the season of excess. So much shopping and spending. So many parties and events. So much food to cook and eat. So many expectations, most of which we never entirely meet.
Let’s experience less busyness, more Jesus this Christmas!
As each year seems to get busier and busier, I find myself aching for a simpler Christmas. Acutely needing to scale back and soak in the meaning of Christmas, instead of the hype.
As if preparing for Sabbath, I’ve found myself starting to prepare for Christmas in November. Trying to get as much of the ‘work’ done ahead of time. Christmas cards printed and ready to mail. Shopping started, presents wrapped, meals planned. Or at least that’s the plan…
However, even this advance preparation doesn’t feel like enough. As I look over the calendar for December, my stress level began to rise. So much I want to do in so little time. So many days already spoken for… Where do I draw the line so the season doesn’t become one big, stressful to-do list? What can I cut out, yet still feel festive and create special Christmas memories with the family?
I think we could fill every waking moment (including staying up past bedtimes) with fun Christmas activities. Office holiday parties, gingerbread house decorating events, Christmas light viewing, caroling, theater productions, holiday fun runs, parties for the kids, and the list goes on and on… But, does it become too much? How often are we worn out by the time Christmas arrives – and still feel like we didn’t get it all done?
This year, will you say “no” to the expectations so you can say “yes” to Jesus?
Every year of my childhood, my mother threw a cookie-decorating party for me and my friends. It was one of the highlights of my childhood. One of those special memories I will always hold dear. I wanted to do the same for my children and build that kind of Christmas tradition.
As I looked at the calendar one year, trying to find a date for a cookie party, I instead found stress. Too many other engagements already on the calendar, too little time to prepare. So, I made a difficult decision to say “no” to one tradition that meant a lot to me and I know would be fun for the kids. Saying “no” to this, however, meant I have more of me to say “yes” to Jesus.
What holiday obligations and expectations do you need to let go so you can “yes” to Jesus?
Savor the season of Advent, more than the frenzy of Christmas
I made a ‘grown up’ Advent calendar for myself, with a scripture verse or carol behind each day. I’ve found it changes the countdown. Instead of counting how many shopping days are left until Christmas, I can instead pause for a few minutes each day to soak in the story of Jesus’ birth. Just as my children still run to open the next day on their Advent calendar, I also can’t wait to turn over the cards on my wreath. Can’t wait to spend time with each scripture lesson and letting each carol fill my heart. I want to feel the Christmas season deeply. I want to immerse myself in the story of Jesus and the promises of his birth.
So, will you join me in saying “no” to something this season? Scale back a little. Focus a little less on the trappings of Christmas so you can focus more on the reason we celebrate. Spend a little more time soaking in the story of Jesus and why his birth changed the world.
Find a devotional that fits you can stick to. Cut something else out of your schedule so you can spend 10, 30, 60 minutes with Jesus each day. Give some of your time to him and see how it puts your heart more fully in the Christmas spirit and eases the stress of the season.
There are any number of great Advent devotionals available. You can even create your own. But, if you haven’t found one that sparks your interest, take a look at these two options:
Festival of Lessons and Carols
This email-based devotional series is designed to fit with your busy lifestyle. Each day in December, you’ll receive a brief email with a scripture or carol, based on the Festival of Lessons and Carols service. You don’t need to print a workbook or spend a lot of time. Simply carve out a few minutes each day to pause and reflect on the day’s lesson or carol, using provided reflection and prayer prompts.
As a special bonus, you’ll also get a printable set of the same countdown cards I use for my Advent calendar.
Pray Deep for Advent
Or, if you prefer a more traditional journal/workbook, try my Pray Deep for Advent devotional journal. Available in print or Kindle formats, this book will provide daily prayer prompts through scripture and hymns. Prepare your heart to receive Christ with hope, peace, love, and joy. (affiliate links)
I wish you all a blessed and low-stress Christmas season!