Were you overwhelmed when you realized that the holidays effectively snuck up on you this year? We all know someone who already has their Christmas shopping done and their Christmas card address labels printed in order to mail their cards the day after Christmas. But most of us are bracing as we start the holiday juggle. Exactly how much can we successfully accomplish before the holidays run their course, yet another year?
5 Ways to Trim Your Holidays This Year
Each kid thoughtfully responded with sweet and heartfelt explanations of why certain traditions were meaningful to them. Several things that we “always do” went by the wayside. Others were celebrated with a renewed appreciation. Here it is, a year later, and life has gone on without having done the ones we skipped! Sometimes we lose perspective and make an idol out of a tradition that has lost its meaning. We are fine-tuning those traditions that matter the most to us and are savoring the ones that we have kept.
Yes, we can spoil our children!
It’s possible for each of us to take a step back and reevaluate that gift list. Two nights ago, a fascinating and in-depth interview with my ten year old son revealed that his deepest heart’s desire was to have an ant farm. I ran with it. He spent hours researching this hobby online, ruling out certain types and perusing reviews on products. I didn’t ask him for a Christmas list. I asked him, and each family member, for one item that would mean a lot to them, explaining that a family with two kids in college was a family with a lean holiday budget.
Not one kid complained. Parents of younger kids should keep in mind that they’re setting a precedent if they “over-give” in the early years. While younger kids may hand you a long list (sometimes verbally, as they watch ads on TV and media), as they mature they should grow to understand and accept that Christmas isn’t about things. As you begin to pare down the “stuff,” your family will appreciate that Christmas will be made special in other ways this year.
When you change your focus to blessing other people, you’ll see that other activities and things seem less important, and it’s easier to let go of them.
When you change your focus to blessing other people, you’ll see that other activities and things seem less important, and it’s easier to let go of them. You won’t need to spend 3 or 4 full evenings or afternoons (or more) shopping for things. Instead, you can show God’s love in thoughtful and joy-giving ways. As we bustle, we may forget that many people are lonely and hurting. If we stop and look around, God can use us to bless others in powerful and healing ways.
Don’t take on more, and if you do, be very intentional about selecting only the most meaningful activities.
Consider keeping things simple. It’s not necessary to dye everything edible red or green, and it’s not a good use of precious time to labor hours over pinterest-worthy projects if they’ll be enjoyed for less than 5 minutes. If that’s your thing, and you have the time and budget, go for it. Or make an activity a time to spend with your kids, family or friends, not just for them. Put emphasis on the process, not just the product. Otherwise, resist the temptation to spend a week’s salary at the craft store just because your Facebook friends are. Remember the meaning of Christmas and stay grounded in it.
You have the freedom to say “no” to fun things and good things, just because there are too many of them!
It’s very easy to be “guilted” through the holidays, doing things because they’re expected of us or fearing that other people will be offended. Depression and anxiety is rampant through this season. Many people need to slow down. Other people are jumping through hoops that God has never asked them to jump through. God wants us to worship and glorify Him and to celebrate Jesus’ birth by spreading His love. So much is meaningless tradition, and only you know what is meaningful to you. Pray that God will show you anything that needs to go, and ask Him what’s important to Him. Remember that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with Us. He is the Prince of Peace. My prayer for you this year is a holiday season of true peace. God bless you with the most joyful holiday season yet!
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."–Luke 2:11