Ever have the feeling that Christmas has gotten just a bit out of hand? If you’re like me, you have the best of intentions: this year, I will slow down and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Sometimes, though, life just gets in the way.
To help you (and me!) out, some of our authors sent in practical tips for simplifying your Christmas. (Check out last week’s post on the same topic!)
“For the first several years of our marriage, my wife and I were ‘required’ to spend our Christmases with family members who did not believe in God. For them, the entire process revolved around a cultural event, and the holiday’s commercial side. As a result of this, our desire to focus on something else has remained a core ingredient of the season. And this ‘something else’ is the key. What we have found is that to simply say, ‘no’ to commercialism isn’t enough. There needs to be an alternative, some great and interesting project or date or event that is big enough, and fun enough, to make the absence of commercialism really not matter so much. Each year now we plan on some big event that we can see as our Christmas. This year, for the first time in twelve years, my mother has felt well enough to join us. We are arranging for her and my sister and her husband and their two daughters to all come down and have a Christmas eve dinner in the Polish tradition. My wife is first generation American, both her parents were Polish. The Polish celebration is focused upon Wigilia, a twelve-course meal without meat. It will take us two days, possibly three, to prepare. And it is this preparation, as much as the event itself, that forms for us the Christmas season.”
“On Christmas Day two years ago, our lives changed forever. God gave us the most wonderful Christmas gift, our first grandchild, Aidan Jackson Mehl. Almost a year later, my husband, Norman, and I sold our home in Wichita, Kansas and moved to Missouri so we could be near our son and daughter-in-law and be involved in Aidan’s life. Blending families has meant that many of our long-held Christmas traditions had to change. But we’ve discovered that traditions are all about family, so adjusting them so we can watch this wonderful little boy grow up isn’t painful at all. It’s a joy”
“One holiday season when my children were young, I grew stressed as I saw Christmas and my book deadline rapidly approaching. I longed to create a perfect Hallmark Christmas with homemade cookies and gingerbread houses but I could see that I was going to have to simplify. I asked each family member to choose one holiday tradition that was special to them, and we would do it. Surprisingly, they chose simple, uncomplicated things like watching a favorite Christmas movie together or driving around to look at the neighbors’ lights. No one asked for cookies and gingerbread houses. It became our tradition to each choose one special activity to do—and they could choose a different one each year. In the end, keeping only a few special traditions made each one seem even more fun.”
These blog posts are your official permission to stop. Slow down. Take a few moments to pray. Breathe a little. Cross a few things off your to-do list, not because you’ve completed them but because you don’t have to do everything.
I promise: Jesus will still feel sufficiently celebrated even if you don’t make all possible types of baked goods, attend every holiday party, or imitate each Advent tradition you’ve ever heard or read about.
At the end of the day, rehearsals and presents and decorations aside, the baby is still in the manger. And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Emmanuel. God with us. Let’s keep it simple, because there is a beauty in that simplicity, and it has the power to change the world.
What is one thing that helps you focus on Jesus at Christmas time? (A song, a tradition, a verse?)