18 November 2009

Honoring Christmas: the hard work

Some of the feedback I've received since I started this series a few days ago has gotten me really excited about upcoming posts. This post, however, isn't one that's exciting to write. I'd love to skip over the tedious hard stuff and go straight to fun stuff. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. Christmas doesn't either.

The truth is that deciding in our hearts to honor Christmas and to make the most of it is one thing. Living out that decision is another. No matter where our hearts are, Christmas still brings lots of busyness that most of us can't escape. We have places to go. We have gifts to buy and wrap. We have food to make. We have decorating and cleaning to do. And if you manage a lot of these tasks at your house, the Christmas season can be a stressful time.

The year our kids came home I made the decision to finish all my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I figured that I'd be able to relax and celebrate Christmas with my family much easier when such a time consuming (and sometimes stressful) task could be crossed off my list. It really did help. In fact, the experiment was so successful that they were kicking me out of the stores at 11pm on Thanksgiving Eve the following year as I finished off my last few purchases.

Unfortunately, finishing the shopping didn't erase the rest of the busyness. I was still pulling late nights baking and sending Christmas cards and decorating and cleaning. As much as I love many aspects of the Christmas chaos, it's much harder to focus on honoring Christmas when I'm looking at my to do list after only a few hours of sleep.

So this year I committed to working harder before Thanksgiving so I can relax and honor Christmas in December. I'm a procrastinator by nature, but I know that every task I force myself to do now will free me up to enjoy the season later. One resource that has helped me to stay on track has been Simple Mom's 12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas. I realize it's a bit unfair to introduce you to it with less than 6 weeks to go, but you could pull an all nighter to catch up or do 2 assignments each week from now until Christmas. Better yet, you could read it, find a few ideas that will help you, and start small this year. Trying to change everything at once may create more stress than it alleviates anyway.

The most important thing is to consider for yourself what holiday tasks distract you most from honoring Christmas and take action to minimize the distractions. Focus on working ahead and simplifying the work. As we all prioritize these 2 goals, we will be more free to enjoy the season in significant ways.

In my next post I'll start sharing some specific ways we honor Christmas in our family. I hope you'll check back and add your input to the conversation.

Previous Posts
Honoring Christmas: a series


Daria said...

So, the awesome thing I have discovered (through experimentation) is that your friends and family will still love you even if they don't get Christmas cards from you for a year (or ten)! My Christmas card efforts are sporadic at best. Sometimes I send 0, sometimes 20 or so, until I peter out. Of course, things like photo cards, make this easier. But it's important to recall that YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT! So freeing...

Peter and Becky said...

So true, Daria. It's important to get past the feeling that you "should" do things and decide what you really need or want to do.

Another idea I like... last year our friends decided that they still wanted to share some photo updates with people, but they wanted to save time and resources. They ended up making a very cool Smilebox photo slide show online, sending out the link by email, and then donating the money they would have spent on cards and stamps to a project they were excited about.

It's definitely about finding what works for you. (But now that you have 2 gorgeous little girls, people may be less forgiving if you don't send photo updates from time to time...)

Theresa said...

I think each year I get better at "letting go" of the things I think I "should" do. The autumn decorations haven't seen the light of day for at least 2 years now... But I do want to be purposeful about honoring Christmas--not only to honor Christ but also to allow it to be a meaningful season for my family. So I try to focus on traditions that resonate with the kids instead of trying to do it all and make it a calendar perfect looking Christmas. Thanks for this series. I look forward to it.