The lights are starting to appear on the outside of houses. The air is turning from the crispness of fall to the fragile cold of winter.
The warmth of the fireside becomes more and more appealing as you start planning and preparing for all those big holiday dinners coming up.
Everywhere you look, everywhere you turn, there’s Christmas in the air. There’s magic everywhere.
And whether you fall into the camp of ‘no Christmas stuff should come out before Thanksgiving’ or whether you can’t wait to get the Christmas decorations out…
Whether your decorating style falls into ‘Christmas minimalist’ or you can’t wait to cover every possible surface or somewhere in between…
Whether you are sick of Christmas carols before Thanksgiving or you love them so much that you play them in July sometimes just because…
No matter where you fall on this spectrum, you have to admit: Christmas is a pretty magical, incredibly special time of year.
The Magic of Christmas…Or Mayhem?
What other time of year can you sit on your couch with a cup of coffee in your hand and enjoy the glow of the twinkle lights?
When else can you drive around town and be amazed and entertained by the exclamations from the backseat over the different light displays that appear?
What other time of year can you feel that giving mentality come out in such full force?
What other time of year do it look like everyone came together to transform the way we see ordinary things?
But is Christmas all snowflakes and twinkle lights? All cookies and hot chocolate and reindeer?
Sadly, for many of us, the holidays are a point of extreme discouragement.
Of gearing up for family fights that happen as we pass the candied sweet potatoes.
Of rushing, rushing, rushing just to fit it all in.
Of missing family members that aren’t able to be with you this year, either because of geographical distance or loved ones that have passed away since last holiday season.
As magical as Christmas can be, sometimes it feels like it’s just chaos and mayhem and rushing and hard memories. Sometimes the holidays bring up all those emotions and situations that you’d rather keep hidden…
Sometimes it feels like you’d rather start rushing and just get through this season as quickly as possible!
It’s Time for a Change
What if you tried something different? What if you let go of this ideas of rushing through the season and made the choice to enjoy it?
What if you started this Christmas season knowing what is most important and building the whole season around that?
That’s kind of a hard question, isn’t it? And where would you even start with something like that? Let’s see if we can break it down a little more:
When you think of Christmas, what stands out the most? Is it the fun of decorating? Is it the thrill of the chase of hunting down the perfect gift for each person on your list? Is it the time with family?
Is it the deliberate slowing down to pause and reflect and enjoy those moments together? Is it having a full social calendar, the fun of running from one party to another soaking up the social events? Or is it prioritizing time by the fireplace reading Christmas stories out loud with your children?
One of the areas of high importance that it’s so easy to take for granted this time of year is family. It’s a hard one to wrap your brain around. It’s hard to explain it, but even though Christmas has this way of pulling families closer together, it also has the potential to drive them apart.
But what if you started out this Christmas season with a different mindset? What if you started out by refocusing on the most important elements that makes Christmas, Christmas? What if you started the season by placing the ones you love and the ones that make the season so worthwhile as one of your highest priorities instead of leaving them as an afterthought?
It seems counter-intuitive to slow down and reflect during the Christmas season, doesn’t it? It seems instead like you should be speeding up to be able to accomplish all those things that have landed on your to-do list before the “big day.” (Not the mention all the other tasks that keep attaching themselves to the bottom of the list like magnets, right?)
But stop with me for a moment. Pause with me and really think about these questions:
Why do you love Christmas?
What makes Christmas special to you?
What elements of Christmas are non-negotiable? What are those things that if they were taken out of the mix, it would not feel like Christmas?
What words describe your Christmas season as it is right now? Busy, crazy, packed full, scrambling, rushing, graceful, joyful, peaceful, reflective, anticipating, reveling in wonder, stressful, depressing, anxious, full of amazement…
Now think about this: What words do you want to describe your Christmas season this year?
Why I Love Christmas
For me, one of the reasons that I love Christmas is that it gives my family a chance to celebrate together. There’s this feeling of wonder and excitement as we look forward to Christmas Day, but more than that, there is a sense of excitement and working together as a team.
In years past, decorating the house for Christmas used to fall squarely on my shoulders, but as my kids have gotten older, it’s turned into this incredible event that we all look forward to. It’s a time for Christmas music, for discovering memories of past Christmases as we unpack the ornaments, of finding new ways we can display the decoration we know and love and pull out year after year.
But it’s more than just “stuff.” It’s not just about the glitter and the lights and the tree. It’s about coming together as a team to make the house reflect the joy of Christmas that we already feel in our hearts.
There’s this desire to learn about different things, to read special books that we only pull out at Christmastime. To work as a team creating a meal for all of us to enjoy and sit and linger over.
It’s about carving out the time to light the Advent candles and intentionally pause and think about the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate. It’s about learning how others around the world celebrate this holiday, which makes our own celebration even more enjoyable!
You see, family and faith are non-negotiable elements of the Christmas season for me. Oh, there are other things I love to add in – driving around to look at the lights, making sugar cookies using my great-grandma’s recipe, getting the chance to see snow. But if someone gave me the choice between driving around to look at lights or spending time with my family, I choose my family every time!
Changing Christmas for the Better
Instead of rushing here and there and everywhere this season, pause.
Before the season takes control of your time, your emotions, and it seems like your actions, let’s turn the tables.
Take control of the holiday season this year. Decide what’s most important before the season takes off without you. Make a choice to only allow those things on your calendar that help define those non-negotiable elements. To only include those things that help enhance that feeling of Christmas. Things that help elevate the importance of that which you say is most important. In other words, let your calendar reflect your priorities!
One thing that’s so easy to forget is that “making Christmas happen” is not all on you as the momma. Oh, you need to be a part of it, no doubt! But start thinking of Christmas as a time to work together and spend time with your family.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: If you let your kids help you bake those sugar cookies, they won’t all be picture perfect! But I bet they’ll still be plenty tasty! And you’ll be making incredible memories with your kids in the process. And, after all, isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?
Christmas can either be a time to become unglued and shatter like that one glass ornament that inevitably hits the tile floor and breaks into a million pieces. Or it can be a time to draw us closer to each other, to bring us closer to the ones we love. To relive memories and stories of years past as we rediscover decorations (including that one decoration that you inevitably forget you had every year!).
Rediscover the real reason for the Christmas season this year and keep your focus there.
So here’s my challenge to you: Take a few moments and write out what is most important to you in this season. It could be a word, a phrase, or you could write a full-on short story if you want! Whatever will help you best remember.
Now, put it someplace where you’ll see it over and over again – maybe write it on your bathroom mirror with one of those glass markers. Or type it up on the computer and tape it on your fridge. Or write it on a post-it note and stick it on your dashboard or on your coffee pot. Or maybe use that cool chalkboard sign that you never know what to write on it! Wherever you put it, make sure it’s in a place where you’ll see it often.
Here’s the key: If you don’t make the decision to be intentional about this season of the year, others will determine your priorities for you. Don’t give that power to other people, to marketing media, to advertisements, to the demand of the relentless urgent tasks. Decide what is most important for you in your life and stay focused on that. Trust me, this one simple step will make this season less stressful, more enjoyable, less urgent, much more peaceful, and much more grace-filled.
That just leaves one question: What do you want to focus on this season?
And if you’re looking for a way to celebrate Christmas without adding lots of work or spending lots of money, come along with me on the 12 Days of Christmas Around the World! It’s a free, fun, and incredible easy way to celebrate the Christmas season and make memories with your kids. Who knows? You might even learn some cool new things along the way! See the box below to start your adventure today!
- A Christmas Carol: A Fresh Look on a Christmas Classic
- The Magic of Baking with Your Children for the Holidays
- Discovering the Legends of Christmas
- The Changing of the Seasons of Life
- 5 Easy Tips for Getting Your Holiday Dinner on the Table
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.