In the early years of our marriage we would pack our schedule with endless things to do over the holiday season. A day without something scheduled was rare.
Ever go for a long drive somewhere and have so much on your mind that you arrive at your destination without a clue how you got there? Did you stop at all the red lights and stop signs? What route did you end up taking?
So busy in your thoughts, you forgot to pay attention to your driving.
You were on autopilot.
That’s what the holiday season was like for us. We overcommitted ourselves and got sucked into the busyness of the season. By the time the New Year rolled in we needed a vacation! One year we were finally fed up with it.
Christmas time felt more like a season we switched to autopilot and were exhausted, instead of a season to be a family and intentionally make time to remember the reason for the season – Christ.
Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Here are a few things we’ve done to keep our holiday season stress free, busy free, and keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ. We hope they help you make your holiday season more intentional, and less like a race.
Put that to-do list on a diet.
Don’t make your first priority everything everyone wants you to go to. Decide what you and your spouse want this season to be about. When you look back, do you want to remember how busy you were, how many dinners you went to, how many shows and events you attended? Write that down. This will be sort of like your holiday mission statement. Put that somewhere that you and your spouse will reminded of it constantly.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…
Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.
Reduce the gift list.
Christmas is more about giving of ourselves, than it is about buying and giving a gift. At least, it should be. This year, give the gift of yourself to your loved ones or to a charity. Make a date out of it and go serve at your local soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. Or maybe visit the senior community of your neighborhood with your spouse. Sit down and play a card game with some of the elderly there, talk with them, ask them about their life and what Christmas means to them. Listen to them, laugh with them, and spend your time – with them. That’s a gift they will cherish and have with them always. It’s better than a box of Christmas cookies.
1 John 4:10-11 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled, “ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Schedule in down time.
For every day you have an event or activity to attend, add in two days of down time at home. Take naps together, read to each other, study a few bible verses together, or watch a few Christmas movies together. In the midst of the chaotic holidays, claim your calm and give yourselves the opportunity to be still for a bit.
What do you most look forward to this holiday season? Are you hoping for a more purposeful season? Have you and your spouse found a rhythm that works well for both of you? We would love to hear how you keep the holiday season stress free!