There’s Christmas in the air. There’s magic everywhere.
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.
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 does 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, the holidays are a point of extreme discouragement.
Of gearing up for family fights that happen as you pass the candied sweet potatoes.
Of rushing, rushing, rushing just to fit it all in.
What if you tried something different? 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? Let me see if I can break it down for you a little bit 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 I think we almost take for granted this time of year is our families. I don’t fully understand it. I can’t fully explain it, but even though Christmas has this way of pulling families closer together, it also has the potential to drive them apart.
What if we started out this Christmas season with a different mindset? What if we started out by refocusing on the most important elements that makes Christmas, Christmas? What if we started the season by placing those we love and those that make the season so worthwhile as one of the 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 we should be speeding up to be able to accomplish all that we have on our to-do list before the “big day.”
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? Busy, crazy, packed full, scrambling, rushing, graceful, joyful, peaceful, reflective, anticipating, reveling in wonder, stressful, depressing, anxious, full of amazement, the list goes on.
What words do you want to describe your Christmas season this year?
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. There is this pulling together to unpack all of the decorations and make the house reflect the Christmas in our hearts. There is 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.
Family and faith are non-negotiable elements of the Christmas season for me. I would love to see snow (I grew up in the northern US), but living in the south that is something that won’t happen for me (unless we travel!). And I’m okay with that because I know my non-negotiable elements.
Instead of rushing here and there and everywhere this season, let’s pause.
Before the season takes control of our time, our emotions, and it seems like our actions, let turn the tables.
Let’s take control of the holiday season this year. Let’s decide what is most important. Let’s make a choice to only allow those things on our 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 we say is most important.
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!).
Let’s rediscover the real reason for the season this year and keep our focus there.
So here’s my challenge to you: 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 will 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 that it’s in a place where you will see it often.
If you don’t make the decision to be intentional about this season of the year, others will determine your priorities and that which is most important for you. Don’t give that power to other people, to marketing media, to advertisements, to the demand of the relentless urgent tasks. Determine 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?
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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.