Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.
Colossians 3:23 (CSB)
If I’d never worked in advertising (or fundraising or publishing), I might think it was a little unrealistic. All the promotions and projects on the line at the holidays in our favorite Hallmark and Lifetime movies seem like a made-up plot device, don’t they? Who schedules can’t-miss meetings and client pitches a few days before Christmas?
Lots of people, apparently.
While I have never seen a real-life community concert or carnival scheduled for December 25, I have found myself working overtime mere days before Christmas. Sometimes that’s just when business is busiest, and deadlines don’t wait for all the shopping and baking and family-time-spending we really want to focus on during the holidays. This year is no different, as I’ve signed contracts to finish one giant project right before Christmas and one right after.
Work — and life in general — doesn’t stop for the holidays. In fact, it sometimes just doubles down on stress and schedules and “MUST BE DONE NOW” to-do lists. And sometimes, we do it to ourselves (or at least compound the problem ourselves).
Every year, I vow to avoid any unnecessary Christmas chaos. I promise to not even peek at Pinterest and its pretty bucket lists and delicious recipes. I unsubscribe from all the emails shouting at me about last-minute sales and commit to cutting back on how many times I look at the community calendars for one more festival to drag my family to. I pledge to keep it all simple, for once in my life.
And every year I break those promises — at least a little bit. So, on top of deadlines and meetings and events we truly cannot miss, I pile fun! And festivities! And more, more, more! Until my planner and my life look like an overflowing plate at Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s not a good look or a wise strategy for the season. So this year I’m trying a different approach. I still have intense deadlines, and our family has extra commitments for church and school. But rather than attempting to rein myself in and limit my “Let’s do it all!” tendencies, I’m going to be intentional about what holiday extras I lean into.
Rather than kidding myself that I’ll do a daily Advent activity with my daughters, I’m going to use the new Names of Jesus ornament book from DaySpring. It has seven ornaments with corresponding devotions. We may not be able to handle twenty-five days of anything, but seven? We can do that. (And bonus! I don’t have to mess with the teeny tiny tangled ornaments we normally use to decorate our small tree. I’ll throw on some garland, then we’ll add one of these ornaments each time we do a devotion. Easy peasy!)
Streamlining gifts is another way I’m going to be smart about going all in this holiday. I bought dozens of mugs on clearance after Christmas last December, and they are lined up on my basement shelves, waiting to be filled up with candy (big bag from Costco for the win!) and handed out to anyone and everyone. Teachers, nurses, friends, neighbors — everybody’s getting a mug this year!
Finally, in an effort to hang onto my sanity and spirit this holiday season, I’m holding a family meeting before the festivities begin. I can’t promise I’ll pry my mittens off the steering wheel for this busy season, but I do think bringing my family into the planning process (and priority setting) will be a good thing.
I can’t change my December deadlines, but I can decide to do the rest of the holiday season differently. And if your planner is also full of can’t-change commitments, you can still control some of the Christmas chaos, too. Lean into what you — and your family — love, and let the rest go. Know going into the holidays that life will be hectic, then choose the chaos you’re willing or able to handle. Give however you can, and choose gratitude when your inner Grinch threatens to come out. And enjoy the season, even when it’s busier than the mall on Black Friday.
May your season be as blessed as it is busy, as happy as it is hectic, friend! Happy holidays!
God, this time of year can be so busy and hectic that I forget what it’s all about. Keep me mindful of You as we zoom from one thing to another, and give me wisdom to know when to slow down and say no. Please help me meet my deadlines and commitments while still saving time to enjoy my family and friends and worship You, the true reason for this season. Amen.
This is an excerpt from Fake Snow & Real Faith: A 10-Day Devotional Inspired by Holiday Movies by (in)courage’s very own Anna Rendell and Mary Carver. For your FREE copy of the full devotional, visit HookedonHolidayMovies.com.
Lean into what you — and your family — love, and let the rest go. -@marycarver: Click To Tweet