6 Ideas to Ditch Chaos and Pursue Christ This Christmas
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but how much do we embrace that concept? Norman Rockwell paintings tend to cast a rosy glow over all things holiday, pulling from the best of our memories, and making them seem effortless.
The truth is, sometimes? We need to work a little harder to keep Christ at the center of Christmas. Our intentions are usually great, but somewhere on our way to action, intentions can get derailed.
Obstacles can be navigated with a better outcome when we choose to keep our perspective holy before our hustle takes over. With a bit of planning before the season gets into full swing, we can prepare with joy instead of frustration.
Let’s take a look at common pitfalls and consider a few ways to avoid them:
- Expectations. As a young couple, we both come into a marriage with certain ideas on how holidays will look. Whether our visions are influenced by magazines or romantic TV movies or the traditions (or lack of) from our family of origin? We ALL come with an idea of what makes Christmas special. As new traditions are implemented, they are much more enjoyable for both parties when we choose to come with an open mind and a flexible spirit. While we often have sentimental attachments to how “we’ve” always done things, our spouse had a different upbringing.
For example, whether we grew up in a non-religious home, had plenty or too little money for gifts, or had a positive family experience (or a very painful background)…those things will absolutely affect how we view our upcoming Christmas season. When we approach each other with thoughtful respect, and determination to embrace what “is” instead of what we “dreamed,” Christ will be well represented through our love.
- Money. Our finances do not have to dictate how special of a Christmas we’ll have! So many couples feel pressured to give nice gifts. There can be twice the amount of people to buy for, but a limited amount of money to spend. Or, like many, just making ends meet is all the cash available. Statistics show that money is one the greatest causes of strife in a marriage. Don’t let that be a wedge. Recognize that it is more than okay; it is straight up wisdom to set up a budget beforehand. If you have $75 for everybody? Then stick to it. Overspending will not make the holidays special, but it could potentially cause plenty of arguing when spring comes and so do the bills. With Pinterest, it is easier to find ideas of very inexpensive homemade, or even free gifts for loved ones. Love each other well by not spending what isn’t there.
- Overwhelm. Practice these words, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t.” Part of the fun of a holiday season, is an abundance of great things to do. Without deciding what are the most important things, we risk taking on all the things. Too much of a good thing is still too much. When we put too much on our plate with obligations, the joy can quickly evaporate, and our focus can go from Holy to Hustle without even realizing it. Choose the things that really do feel special, and know that every invitation isn’t one that needs accepting. Importantly, recognize that people will always have needs, and that as women we often feel the desire to fill them. Not all of them our “ours” to take on, and Christmas is an excellent time to focus on where God wants our focus to be. Saying yes to too much, or trying to create the perfect holiday experience can backfire with utter overwhelm.
- Preparation. Grab a calendar and a pencil. Sit with your spouse and list out what things would be meaningful as a couple, and individually, for this coming Christmas. Looking at the available time slots helps us to be realistic about our time, finances, and expectations. None of those things are important enough to allow them to steal our peace. But they’ll try, so be prepared to reset! As the season progresses, things might have to be erased or rescheduled. Having a plan in advance to allow flexibility will help usher in a Holy experience.
- Advent. Are you familiar with the reflective practice of celebrating Advent? If not, check out the wonderful books and resources about this special time preceding Christmas day (here are a few ideas). Simplified, it is a time to focus on Christ, through weekly candles or children’s books, or daily devotions. It can be a beautiful addition to keeping our heart grounded in what matters the most, Jesus.
- Solitude. It is almost impossible to focus on Christ without allowing a white space, a margin, of time in which to completely sit in His presence without distractions. Finding blocks of time allows us to stop the chatter of people around us, the commercialism, the to-do lists… solicitude is the antidote to hustling. Embrace it is a gift.
This Christmas, whether it is our first or our fiftieth… it is the perfect time to inspect our hearts as we prepare. We can enjoy the season with plenty of celebratory activities! But without Jesus as the focus? We cheat ourselves out of the best gift of all. Peace.
Let’s join Heaven in celebrating Luke 2:14, ““Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (NIV)