It’s December 3rd and I’ve basically done nothing for Christmas. I mean, the tree is up so that’s good. But no baking has been executed, no gifts have been bought and I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to deep clean the bathrooms in the next 20 days. Work is busy, life is complicated and I usually need to go to bed by 9 each night.
But it’s ok. I’m not really worried at all. I DO love the season, I’m not a Grinch or anything.
However, I decided a couple years ago that I wasn’t going to let Christmas own me.
I used to really worry about everything.
Can all the expectations placed on me be met?
Will our budget carry us through the season?
Did I get the right gifts?
Is my ugly sweater, ugly enough?
Is it possible to navigate all the complexities of relationships to make everyone happy?
There have been times when those thoughts kept me up at night. Perhaps I had the wrong ideas about what mattered. Maybe I just overthought everything, or maybe I’ve finally learned what is most important to me. It took a long time but I’ve realized that I can choose to make sure that the Christmas season is one that doesn’t get out of hand.
I want to have joy in this season.
I want the true light that brings light to shine through.
Christmas can be simple AND meaningful.
Christmas is not in control.
Christmas doesn’t own you.
Christmas is what you decide it should be.
Here are a few simple thoughts (ones I’m still working on) to help make the season more meaningful and to make room for joy and light.
Make Christmas about others. Christmas lists, an incredibly decorated home and Pinterest-perfect ideas are not what should measure your Christmas success. Lift up your eyes this season, and take a minute to look around you. How can you show love and care to those that need it? Share yourself this season. Be a bright light in the life of someone who needs you. There are people alone and hurting. Think of ways to be Christmas love to them.
Keep things simple. Easy doesn’t mean lazy, easy means smart. 2 years ago our extended family decided to shake things up and do a catered meal for our Christmas Day dinner. Different circumstances made pulling off a turkey dinner really challenging and stressful. I dreaded what had to be done, and it took all my joy. That simple decision took Christmas stress down a level, and I’m not filled with anxiety about trying to make my lumpy gravy under pressure. Being together is what matters and it’s ok to make that easy.
Create special moments. There are tons of moment-making opportunities all around at Christmas, many of them free. Often, you don’t even have to think them up because they are already happening. Look for events in your community, special places to visit and choose a couple activities that you know will be meaningful. Go to a Christmas Market (there are literally like a million this year), volunteer at a Christmas event or take a walk in your neighbourhood to look at Christmas lights. Creating moments doesn’t have to cost money, and moments are the BEST things to collect over Christmas.
Take time to reflect. Whether you do advent, or a Christmas countdown – take time to celebrate what Christmas means to you. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voscamp is my favourite Christmas reading. A chapter each day takes me on a beautiful and significant journey right to the manger on Christmas Day, and I can’t hold back my tears when I do the last reading. This part of my Christmas is so meaningful each year, and I can’t wait for it to begin. Slow things down. Whatever makes Christmas special to you, take time for those moments of reflection.
Christmas will never be perfect. Things will not always go as planned. But we do have the opportunity to set our season up and focus on the things that will bring joy into our lives.
This year, look around and remember that joy can be found in the simple.
The memories and moments of Christmas and how you share that joy with others is what will remain in your heart.
Reflect on the light that has come on Christmas.
The true light, that gave light.
Shine that light.
Bring light to others.
Christmas doesn’t own you.
You can decide how to make this your most meaningful Christmas ever.