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Over Thanksgiving, I️ had family really push to doing thing “easy” this year. I️ had a problem with that.
To me, “easy” is for Monday nights. These nights I️ teach afternoon art class after a full day of teaching 6th graders English. Monday’s are pizza nights and paper plates. Monday’s deserve easy.
The flip side here is perfection. You know, Pinterest mom perfection. Picture perfect in every way and in every action. This is often unattainable and makes us feel guilty, crazy and stressed. I get that.
However, what I️ see is the over reaction to this.
“If I️ can’t be perfect, I’ll just eat chips on the couch.”
“Let’s just make the holiday easy.”
“Let’s just stay home and rest.”
Nope. I’m not having it.
Holidays are holy days. They are set apart from our normal routine. They should bring joy and happiness. However, they should be purposeful, and they need balance.
The Christmas season has started. As a follower of Christ, the season of his birth has special meaning to me. My celebration should reflect that.
(Side note: How often do so many American Christians complain about Jesus not being in “secular” Christmas or on a particular coffee cup, yet forget to put him in our own daily lives? Isn’t that irony? )
So how do you find balance, discover meaning and purpose, and cultivate joy this holiday season? Here are my thoughts.
- Make a plan. At least for me, I️ get overwhelmed with trying to do too much at the last minute. So this year, I’m being purposeful with my planning. I’m trying a 25 days of Christmas by The Overwhelmed Mom. I’m already adjusting it to fit my life. Did I️ mention Monday’s? We aren’t doing much on Monday’s! I’m taking the calendar and placing all my “I️ really want us to…” on the list. I️ say plan, but don’t control. Be flexible. If things don’t go exactly as planned, don’t flip out. (I️ may be speaking directly to myself here) The plan isn’t so everything goes perfectly. The plan is there so I️ don’t miss out on opportunities due to my own busyness and distractions.
- Have a purpose. Santa and Elf on a Shelf are nice, but for me they don’t have much of a purpose for me. I’m putting my focus on this that help us grow as a family and in faith this season. This year I’m doing a paper chain countdown to Christmas and an advent coloring book for my son. I’ve planned a Bible reading for each Sunday afternoon. And I’m completing my own advent study.Make traditions. (Ones that don’t involve consumerism.) This is big for me. Growing up we had a couple tough years where by parents were broke. They felt like failures when we didn’t get a “big” Christmas overflowing with gifts. But do you know what I️ remember most about Christmas growing up? Laying by the Christmas tree looking at the lights with my sister. I️ remember singing “Happy Birthday to Jesus” and eating cake. (or brownies… Jesus loves chocolate as he should!) I️ really don’t remember but a few gifts. Recently, we have started making Gingerbread pancakes on Christmas morning. Even last year, when my maternity leave paycheck was tight, we could make pancakes. My son still talks about them.
- Focus on the experience. Go to a parade, look at Christmas lights, sing songs, and have game nights. My MIL did a fun thing Christmas Eve where we tried that Saran Wrap game. Everyone was involved, young and old. It was a hoot! Over Thanksgiving, my son and I️ baked pies together. He doesn’t even eat pie. The experience of doing the baking together was better than the final product. Last year, we made handmade ornaments with popsicle sticks. For the experience to be memorable, you can’t choose focus on the mess: dirt, flour, or glitter that gets on the floor. You have to focus on the people involved.
- Give gifts that matter. This seems like a no brainer. We are geared toward giving in this season. We spend hours stressing, planning and preparing gifts. Giving is awesome, and I️ love a meaningful gift, but do we forget to give the important things? Give your best smile. Give your best self. Give your best attitude. Give your full attention.(Put your phone down)Be Present over Perfect. (If you haven’t read this book… you should)
- Count your blessings but don’t compare. Stress is real, but we often create it ourselves. Shake off your own preconceived notions and expectations of the season. Savor what you have. Over Thanksgiving, I️ literally made a list of my blessings. The page couldn’t hold it all. My life doesn’t look like yours. We can’t compare our circumstances. But we BOTH can count the blessings we have.
Last year, I️ had a new preemie baby. I️ was richly blessed, but my holiday season looked far different than years past. I️ did small things, but mostly I️ held a baby. For that season, that had to be enough. If I️ would have compared, and I️ did at times, I️ would have fallen short. Maybe you are in that type of season yourself. Maybe you just can’t do everything you want. It’s okay. IT’S OKAY! Maybe for you, just do one meaningful thing, and quit stressing about what you can’t do this year. Put your effort and love in one spot instead of stretching yourself too thin.
This Christmas, I️ have a plan, but I’m flexible to change and adjust. My goal is to be purposeful and make traditions. I️ want to focus on the experience and be fully present. And most of all, I️ want to avoid comparison and see the blessings of my daily life.
And may joy come to you…
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! – John 15:11
- 25 Days of Christmas http://www.overwhelmed-mom.com/
- Advent paper chain & coloring book http://www.marymarthamama.com/kid-stuff/printable-advent-coloring-book/ & http://activitiesforkids.com/advent-calendar-paper-chain/
- My Bible Readings come from the Jesus Story Book Bible. (Week 1: Get Ready! Malachi, Ezra, Nehemiah Week 2: He’s Here Luke 1-2. Week 3: The Light of the Whole World Luke 2, Week 4: the King of all Kings Matt. 2) https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Storybook-Bible-Every-Whispers/dp/0310708257/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512310402&sr=1-1&keywords=the+jesus+storybook+bible
- Gingerbread pancakes: we use cookie cutters to cut them into shapes after we cook them. https://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/gingerbread-pancakes/
- Saran Wrap Game (There are a ton of variations on Pinterest) https://www.isavea2z.com/saran-wrap-ball-game-rules-ideas/
- Present over Perfect Book https://www.amazon.com/Present-Over-Perfect-Leaving-Frantic/dp/0310342996/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
- Savor (A year long daily devotional. Over thanksgiving, it had a focus on gratitude and this is why I made my list) https://www.amazon.com/Savor-Living-Abundantly-Where-You/dp/0310344972/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512309750&sr=1-1&keywords=savor