How to Savor the Holidays + Free Holiday Planning PDF!
Here's what my heart longs for during the holiday season:
Warmth. Comforting blankets piled on top of us while we sip hot cocoa and watch family movies. Soup simmering all day. Slow schedules. Still quite times of reflection. Dreaming of what's to come in the year ahead. Reflecting on the beauty of the incarnate Christ. Rejoicing in gratitude.
Here's what the world wants you and I to experience this season:
Toys upon toys. Pumpkin spice lattes by the dozens. Shopping and getting those presents wrapped right on time. All the events and parties (and don't forget you need to bring a dish to every one!). Noise.
It happens every year. The temperatures begin to drop and before we know it all the holidays seem to hit us one right after the other. This is my favorite time of the year, but I think we can all admit that it can become super overwhelming and joy-sucking. An old pastor used to call it the Christmas hangover. We spend sooo much time preparing for this one day and then it comes and can be kind of a disappointment, leaving us empty and wishing we would have focused on what mattered during the season. I started getting really intentional about the holiday season last year - traditions, rhythms, hospitality, and relishing the time with family and friends.
God has purposefully designed the seasons to tell us something about Himself. During the winter trees are bare, frost covers the ground, and flowers go to seed, hibernating until a new Spring. We are naturally beckoned into a time of slowness, stillness and reflection. I want to share with you some tips for making this season meaningful, and not leave you with a "holiday-hangover."
1. Choose commitments in advance
I'm super passionate about cutting decision fatigue. You know, the sneaky overwhelm that takes over you and makes you just want to lay on the couch and binge on Netflix? When we plan ahead before the season hits, we can know exactly what to say "yes" and "no" to. We will gladly say no to parties or volunteer opportunities that don't fill our cup or help us to love well. Every time we say no, we say yes to something better. Do we all need to bake the turkey cookies for our kids school Thanksgiving party? I mean, somebody has to, but does it have to be you? Choose well based on your values, not somebody else's.
2. serve your local community
If you haven't already, just wait, because every non-profit will be letting you know how you can help this season. Yes and amen to helping them all, but each of us can only do so much. Typically, investing in the communities we live in is the best way to serve because it creates a sustainable habit that can be continued far beyond the holidays. No one loves the feeling that they only "help out" once a year. Do a little research on how you can love your neighbors this holiday season in your local area. Additionally, choosing a couple select organizations you are passionate about and setting a giving budget can help you to not feel the guilt associated with having to say "no" to every giving opportunity.
3. Write down your life-giving traditions
I started doing this last year and I am soooo glad I have this list now! I created a document on my computer with every holiday listed. Under each holiday I wrote what we did - special activities with the kids, traditions, books read, and movies watched. I even wrote what worked well and what I would change for the following year so I wouldn't forget. This is going to be a working document that gets added to each year. When our kids transition to a phase where some activities cease to be fun anymore, I'll create a new list for older years, hopefully keeping the younger years list as a reference for any mamas coming up behind me!
4. Choose what you will host, then rest!
You can't do it all, so if you are hosting Thanksgiving, can you just contribute a side to Christmas? Each family is so unique with their family traditions, but figuring it out now may help with stress down the road.
5. Make a book list
This is something new I'm doing this year. Each year I see recommendations for great books (specifically regarding Advent) and never get around to reading them, so this year I made a list early so I would be able to request them from the library with enough time to get them for Advent. I've decided that these are the only books other than the Bible that I will read during Advent. Here are mine, what are yours?
- Preparing for Christmas: Daily Devotions by Richard Rohr
- Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller
- Rhythms of Rest by Shelley Miller
Ps! I am humbled to be contributing to my friend Abbey's Advent devotional. It's totally free, and delivered to your inbox every day in December. If you are looking for a short, gospel-rich daily devo for the Advent season - this is for you! Learn more and sign up here.