2 Ways to Have a Simple Christmas
Ahhh. . . Christmastime. It’s almost here, and I can feel the magic. Can you? Christmas lists are being made. Favorite artists are releasing new Christmas albums, and, yes, Target has put the ugly sweaters out. If you’re like me, you can almost hear the anticipation growing, but you can also hear this part deep down that says, “Let’s make THIS year a slow and special one. For real this time…” It’s no surprise we have this longing! Even classic holiday tunes show us the magic of that slowness. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” certainly suggests relaxation and time with loved ones. However, our good intentions for intentional time are often tossed aside like wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
Don’t Give Up
What do you want this season to look like? Don’t give up on those healthy desires for balance. Don’t give up on the dreams you have tucked away. Quality time watching an old classic and eating homemade popcorn? Yes! Reading a book as a family and finishing it? You bet. How about baking for neighbors and giving gifts to the less fortunate? Maybe an actual sledding day (with dad and mom) if we are blessed with snow? Those all sound good to me! Take a minute to daydream how you might approach this season with balance, joy, and a focus on the Lord.
With my Pinterest app open and all these special moments floating around in my mind, I feel optimistic! Sadly, that optimism often fades when my inbox fills with evites and my phone chimes with another calendar notification.
How do we keep our priorities straight? How do we carve out T-I-M-E when the season moves at warp speed? What do we say “no” to and how? These are tough questions, and they’re often the source of our stress at Christmastime. But they don’t have to be.
Go First in Grace
My first encouragement to you is this: do to others what you would have them do to you. Sound familiar? I hope so! Luke 6:31 is very applicable here. Do you wish others extended grace when you have to say no? Extend grace when a friend declines your invitation. Do you wish others would be more understanding when you need to choose between activities? Give extravagant grace to others. Show the grace you wish to receive this season. Be the first to remove pressure from those in your circle. Go first in grace.
Remember What You Value
Second, I encourage you to resist the temptation to go down that rabbit hole of pressure from others. Instead, focus on the values you are seeking to prioritize this season. Choose to keep your sights on the gift of time off work and time to play. Remember the joy of time with family, out-of-town guests, and traditions with friends.
When we lose sight of our own priorities, we lose the strength to pursue them. So, ask God for wisdom as you make your plans. Sit down and determine what your hopes for this Christmas will be—simple, low-stress, and fun. Cheer on your family members and friends as each of you make choices (hard ones, I know) that support your values.
In the wake of failed attempts at slowness, I have been tempted to believe slowing down this season is impossible. But it’s not. When I think of this season, I’m picturing board games with my family and crisp snowy walks. I’m remembering that I love the slow feeling; remembering that my value is not tied to a full calendar.
And neither is yours.
Simply Having a Simple Christmas
So, I don’t have any Christmas magic to sprinkle on you. What I do have, however, is the hope of Christ that is itself the magic of Christmas. No matter how much planning (or not planning) we do this holiday season, it is all quite pointless if we forget about our Messiah’s birth. Will you remember with me? Our precious Savior took on human flesh to come to earth and walk among us. Our Immanuel. He took this humble position out of his great love for us and to bring glory to the Father in heaven. Jesus changed the world forever by dying for our sin and rising to life again.
This Christmas, may we all make space to remember the grace that went first and the great value of salvation.