Everyone is starting earlier and earlier to prepare for Christmas these days. Part of me has fought that trend for a while. In recent years, when people asked, “Are you all ready for Christmas?” I usually laughed and responded with, "It's not Christmas Eve yet is it?"
It made me wonder about how one season transitions right into another without so much as a pause in between. Why do I have to rush into stores in August to purchase Fall items, and why do Christmas items have to start crowding the shelves in October? Why do I feel pressured to have my Christmas tree up before we commemorate November 11th? I am not ready for that. I need more time to live out the current season before I bid it farewell to embrace another. Sometimes I feel as if we are pushing the fast-forward button of time which, if you have noticed, is traveling fast enough on its own. We run this fast-paced race every season. Commercialism has hijacked our calendars. I want to sit and savor the moments of each season just a little longer. Is anyone with me?
I want a simple Christmas. One that appreciates all the things that really matter. One that celebrates the simple traditions that are based on spending time with family and friends. I love that!! But somehow, we have complicated things. Our “to-do” lists grow longer while our time for lingering with family and friends becomes shorter. When I feel so frenzied from shopping, baking, cooking, wrapping, and decorating, that I miss opportunities to linger in the presence of friends and family I begin to ask myself, why does everything have to be this way? Why can’t we be free from the expectations of the season to just enjoy each other? I fall into the same trap as everyone else. But when the trimmings of Christmas become the trappings that crowd out relationships and steal our joy it is time to stop and take stock of what we are doing.
So, I have been trying to break this cycle of behavior in my own life. I am trying to slow down long enough to enjoy each season. However, I realize that planning ahead is also necessary. So, here is my dilemma, I feel rushed and frenzied when I wait too long to prepare for Christmas, and l am unfocused and get frustrated when I start too early. How can I be present in the moment of one season while preparing for the next? How can I balance this pull between the present and future events? What is the solution? For me, the answer is twofold:
1. Simplify! Prioritize the traditions and activities that mean the most to you and your family and stick to them. Let go of the things that are not significant. Let go of the “perfect” ideal of Christmas.
2. Start Taking Small Steps earlier, yes that is what I said, earlier. It is best to ease into the new season by organizing tasks into smaller manageable chunks so as not to rob the joy from the current season or the next.
To help implement these practices in my own life I have been reviewing holiday planners. I am in the process of creating my own simple holiday planner to keep me in check and on track. If this resonates with you, stay tuned as I summarize and share weekly checklists to help you stay presently connected to your current season, all the while preparing to embrace the next. We can let our unrealistic expectations go and still maintain a joyful, celebratory attitude and atmosphere for our current season.
After all, having the perfect gift for someone is not better than spending time with them, and having a perfectly decorated house does not trump the warmth and hospitality it offers. Please understand, I am not against giving nice gifts and having beautifully decorated houses. These things are not wrong in themselves. They just have the potential to distract us from greater gifts if we neglect to prioritize what is most important. The best thing you can do in any season of life is to offer yourself. That is the perfect gift. Just like the gift God us when he sent His Son to be our perfect gift.
Ideally, I should have written this post last week. I am already a week behind. But no stress, condemnation, comparison, or frustration today. I am simply a work in progress. So, I start fresh today, and hopefully, when Christmas week arrives and someone asks me if I am all ready for Christmas, I will be able to enthusiastically say, “Yes, want to go coffee?”
Click below to receive your own checklist for organizing a calm Christmas celebration.