This month has been a complete whirl-wind of traveling, shopping, list-making and stress. I’ve literally felt more mom-guilt, friend-guilt, and work-guilt this month than I have in the entire year combined. The expectations are high and the time to do it all is low. The Holiday Hustle is real, y’all, and it’s in full swing. As Christmas is drawing near (ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT), I thought to myself, I need a perspective shift. Where is my Christmas cheer?! Why am I freaking out about the (insert cuss word) Elf, the number of Christmas gifts I bought each person, and attending all 27 Christmas parties we’ve been invited to? I started feeling more like a grinch as the demands kept piling up.
So with only seven days until Christmas, now is the time to take the joy back. Here are a few reminders to help kick us out of grinch-mode and straight into true Christmas joy (But, if this doesn’t work, buy more wine):
“It’s like that book I read in the 9th grade that said, ‘Tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people.'” – Cher (Clueless) Cher really had some incredible knowledge there. As I was making my to-do lists, my Christmas gift lists, scheduling sitters, etc. I realized that I hadn’t done anything to help teach my child about the meaning of the season. We hadn’t chosen an angel tree family, served anywhere or even talked much about how other kids don’t even have mommies and daddies that love them on Christmas. I realized I had missed a major part of Christmas, sharing the love of Jesus with others by helping someone else. I spent some time praying for God to reveal someone we could help this holiday season and listened. Every time I’ve ever done that, He always brings someone to mind and chooses to use us to bless someone else. You’re probably a way better person than me and have already done that, but if not, take some time to do it now! And once you’ve done it, nothing about Christmas compares to the feeling of blessing someone else!
Learn to say, “No.” I realize we are a little late in the game to start saying, “No.” But with Christmas only a week away, decide now to take full advantage of the world. This one is especially hard for me. Not really because I feel like I have to please everyone so much as in the moment, it sounds like a super fun idea. It’s only days before when I realize I have an event obligation literally every. single night. that I realize I’ve over-committed myself and now I just hate Christmas (Sort of). I had to stop and realize that my priority is to my little family, and if saying “no” to some of the parties or obligations makes for a more joyful Christmas, then that’s okay. EVERYONE is busy, so saying no probably won’t come as a shock to anyone else, and not only will they understand, they’ll probably wish they had said no a few times themselves. So go ahead and proudly pull out the old, “No.” card or feel free to RSVP “Not Attending” with a guilt-free conscience. If mommy is happy, everyone in the house is happy.
Be present over perfect. I’ve been stressing for weeks now because my entire family is coming in town for Christmas. So not only have I gone over and over a list of things to do to my house, I also have been going over and over a list of fun things to do so my whole family has the BEST. CHRISTMAS. EVER. But, what I’ve decided is that I’ve been stressing so much over these details that I forgot to be present with little family. I’ve been more concerned with cleaning than singing “jingle bells” with my little nugget. So from here on out, I’m going to start being present over making sure everything is perfect. Your family won’t remember if the baseboards were dusted, but they will remember the quality times and laughter.
Live in view of the Gospel – with a grateful heart. I don’t go shopping very often. I don’t live super close to a mall (thank goodness for Daniel), so oftentimes I don’t see things I want until I start Christmas shopping. Therein ensues the “stuff” coveting. And not to mention I start seeing everyone’s living rooms and begin to covet people’s houses, people’s holiday decor, and maybe even their dog. It’s a downward spiral of discontentment in a season where we should be rejoicing all that we have, not feeling like our life is lacking without all of this other stuff we don’t have. Scripture says, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it’s given Him from heaven.” If we actually believe this to be true, then we’ll stop ourselves from wanting all of this stuff that ultimately won’t make us any happier or more fulfilled, and we’ll stop and be grateful for all that we have.
Remember, the holidays can be lonely. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that big holidays, like Christmas, can be a very hard time for anyone who has experienced loss. For anyone who has lost a loved one, or even longing for that missing piece like a spouse or a child, it can make the holidays extra hard. So in the midst of your holiday, take some time to invite someone who doesn’t have anyone. Take some time to reach out to or love on someone who is going through a hard time. Sometimes just acknowledging someone’s pain can make a huge difference. I bet if you are more aware of this fact, you’ll notice those in your life going through something like this, and you can be more intentional about loving them through it.
Don’t let the prince of peace be another item on your to-do list. Did you know that a super-natural peace, like a natural Xanax from above, is available to you and me despite our circumstances?! If we would just stop acting like reading the Bible or saying some prayers is an item on our to-do list and just start making it a priority to spend time with our Heavenly Father, then we can have that peace (EVEN AT CHRISTMAS). Ask Him for that peace this week so that you can truly have rest and joy amidst the chaos of the holiday season. Invite Him into your holiday hustle and He’ll change your whole perspective on it all.
Reminder: the presents “high” quickly fades, so focus on experiences. We spend months thinking about, making lists, and searching for the perfect Christmas gifts. Or more likely for me, spend a couple weeks FREAKING out and mass-shopping for Christmas. My family is also one of those that goes WAY over board on gifts. I’m like, “Honey, I only have 7 presents for my mom, what else should I get her?” To which my very sensible husband rolls his eyes. But every single year, we wake up Christmas morning with excitement and after some coffee and maybe some mimosas poured, we begin to open the many presents. And just like every year, right when it’s all done, with wrapping paper spread out all over the floor, there is a moment of let down. It’s not that Christmas wasn’t amazing or you don’t love all of your gifts, it’s just that we forget that the “stuff” is awesome but will never satisfy. So keep that in mind this last week before Christmas when you’re freaking out at Walmart on Christmas Eve trying to find the perfect 97th gift. Instead of putting so much of your time and energy into gifts, think about some fun experiences for your family to do. Think about some fun games or new traditions you can come up with. I promise your entire family will remember the laughter much more than the gifts. Can you remember any gifts you gave or received last year?!
Put the phone away. Just do it. Even for an hour. Stop with the to-do lists, demands, recipes, emails, and just put it away. Take some time to just enjoy your kids. Take some time to listen to worship music or even Christmas music while watching your family around you. Pop open some bubbly, grab your family or some friends and watch a Christmas movie. Life is too short to miss the joy of this season! Or if it’s a hard season, don’t numb yourself by being busy. Lean into the only One who can bring you peace amidst the loneliness. Lean in and tell God how you feel, and ask for the super-natural peace He promises to wash over you today.
Family can be complicated. With Christmas being just days away, it can bring up a lot of emotion and anxiety for some people. No one has a perfect family, which means we all have family drama from time to time. So, I know that for some, spending quality time with family can be something you may be dreading or hard to face. I also know there are deep wounds there and sometimes family is the hardest to love. But one thing I would encourage you to do today is to forgive and remember that you forgave. Meaning through HIS strength forgive past hurts, and then when you face the person and are filled with a lot of bad emotions, remind yourself that you forgave because you were forgiven when you didn’t deserve it too. Life is too short to hold grudges because you could turn around and they could be gone. So pray, pray, pray. Pray for God to help you walk into this Christmas with His Spirit, with forgiveness in your heart and filled with His love. Because remember this too, you may be the only picture of Jesus they ever see.
I pray that every single one of you has an amazing Christmas this year and experiences a lot of laughter with friends and family, remembering to celebrate Jesus, the light of the world, being born to save us all! Happy Birthday, Jesus!
And, Merry Christmas from the Gilhams ~