IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!! I’m SOOO excited! I LOVE Christmas. I love the expectation leading up to it! I love giving meaningful gifts to people I love. I love the lingering celebration after Christmas. I love the hope and big dreams that surround the beginning of a new year. I love spending extra time with family, yelling over card games, playing board games around the family table until my backside can’t handle the hard kitchen chairs anymore. I LOVE the holidays.
But I will be the first to admit, that there have been times when all of the doing and expectations just flat stole the joy of the season. What is meant to be a joyous celebration of the Savior coming to rescue a lost and dying world, can easy turn into a stressful even grief-filled time. Allow me to share the things that we have learned/are trying to intentionally do that have helped us to actually ENJOY the holidays.
1. Give extra grace
Sharing space with any other human can sometimes be a challenge. Throw in the fact that some of these people live completely different lifestyles, have different hygiene and organizational habits, everyone is getting less sleep because you’re away from home and staying up too late, and you’re bound to have opportunity to get annoyed. One of the things that I have been trying to prepare my heart for extra well this year is to give grace to those around me this holiday. My job is NOT to fix people or keep everything in a particular system or order, my job is to love my people well and serve them.
2. Don’t compare. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Unless you’re in a Hallmark movie, nothing looks or goes perfect ALL the time. It’s really ok if you don’t have the perfect decorations AND professional looking cookies AND extravagant gifts AND matching outfits and …. Sometimes the things that make a memory most precious are the imperfect parts. A perfection Christmas is not the goal. Celebrating the gift of Jesus is the goal.
3. Enjoy traditions, but don’t try to recreate moments
This one is a tough one. Especially when we have such fond memories of a tradition. But here’s the thing, especially as we kids get older, HAVING to re-create scenarios that were once spontaneous sucks the fun out.
4. Put down your phone
Yes, I know you want to connect with everyone, stay up on current ‘gram posts, and even take loads of videos and pictures. But nothing is a replacement for being present. Yes, take some pictures and then put the phone down and be in the moment.
5. Plan out your budget and stick to it
Now I realize that it may be a tad late to change much for this Christmas, but if nothing else, budget NOW for next Christmas. Christmas is not an emergency. It happens at the same time every year. Plan out the list of people that you want to buy presents for and set a dollar for each person. Don’t feel obligated to buy a present for everybody and their mama. Don’t go broke buying Christmas presents. One habit that we have adopted (thanks Dave Ramsey) is to set aside money for Christmas every paycheck. Then, when Christmas rolls around its already “paid for”. It honestly makes buying gifts even more fun because you don’t feel like you are taking money away from other bills that need paid.
6. Prioritize events and traditions as a family.
The lists of things to do around the holidays can get flat overwhelming and suck the joy right out of it. Establish ahead of time what is important to you and yours this year. Some years, I like wrapping gifts with extra ribbon and bows. This year we have a toddler who thinks it is great fun to play with the once curled ribbon. So I’m just skipping that for the most part. If your traditions and holiday to-do lists are making people feel rushed and stressed, then they are taking away from the main point and need to be re-evaluated.
7. Attend a church service or a candlelight service.
I’m not gonna lie, we rarely do a full-on advent where we read something every day of December leading up to Christmas. In theory I would love to, but it just doesn’t happen very often. Attending a candlelight service is one way that we remind ourselves as a whole family why we are actually celebrating and is honestly one of the most precious parts of the season.
8. Don’t overindulge on holiday foods.
Certain foods are an integral part of traditions for some families, and that’s great! But try to keep it to a minimum. Overeating makes you feel terrible anyway, especially the sweets. If you’re going to eat something that you should’t , take your time and really enjoy it, then move on. Try not to overdo it. Your January goals will thank you.
9. Try to get up and move some each day.
It can be really hard on your body to not do anything all day for several days, especially when you are used to being active. We try to get out and go for a couple walks or even a run each day.
10.Consciously include people who might otherwise be alone.
Holidays have ALWAYS been important to me. It’s easy to get SO focused on spending the holiday with your people that you forget to include people who would otherwise be alone. Make a conscious effort to include people. If you are going to be alone over the holidays, reach out. Ask some of your friends if you can come join in their festivities. If they haven’t already invited you, it is probably just an oversight and that’s all.