The holidays are right around the corner. Is anyone else asking themselves where in the world the year 2018 has gone?
I’ve been working for the last week or so on my December calendar and Christmas lists, and it made me think about how I wanted to approach the season. If you know anything about me, you know that I am a strict, major Type A planner and I strive to do things with purpose. I even own a goal planner.
As I flipped to my December calendars this week, I really decided that I wanted to head into this special time of year with intentionality, mainly so it won’t go by so fast and I won’t feel so discontent by the time Jan. 1 rolls around. Have you ever felt like that before? As in, the month of December ended up being a whirlwind or steamroller instead of the quiet, intentional preparation time for a holiday that you hold dear? To be honest, we’re only a day into December and it already kind of feels like that.
My tree isn’t up and decorated but the decorations are in a disarray in my front entry way, local Christmas parades are over, we’ve already attended a “Christmas kickoff” party and the season just started. As I started to ponder some of my December goals, themes for a holiday mindset really stuck out.
Contentment and gratitude
Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday. Gathering around a table with my favorite people and favorite food has always been a time I look forward to each year. I always find myself feeling infinitely more thankful (and really full) after Thanksgiving. I made it a daily habit last month to write down something I was thankful for each day. While some days were harder than others and some days it was something as simple as sleep or coffee, I loved seeing the good things that God has given me.
It made me realize that even when life seems like a roller coaster, gratitude and contentment can be found if you just look for them. I highly encourage you to start writing down all of the things you are thankful for, I don’t think I’ll stop just because Thanksgiving has come and gone.
Last weekend and even well into this week, my inbox was full of promotional emails from retailers. As I started making Christmas lists and purchasing a few items that were on sale, I instantly started worrying that what I was gifting just wasn’t going to be enough for all of these loved ones on my list. I even felt the same way as I was filling my shopping cart at Hobby Lobby on Monday and then again as the total got higher and higher at the cash register. (I can assure you, the amount of glittered items purchased was enough for my husband.) Simplicity is going to be one of my biggest goals in 2019, but I want to start now. Carrying over the heart of contentment and gratitude from Thanksgiving can reshape holidays into a season of thanksgiving at Christmas time too. We’re setting a firmer budget, shopping early and focusing on the things that we truly want to savor this time of year.
Margin and peace
It is so easy to over schedule during this time of year. Sometimes it happens without noticing and before you know it an entire weekend is spent rushing from one event to another. It can be exhausting. I always say I will slow down to enjoy and soak in Advent, the church’s long tradition of embracing the time before Christ’s birth. If I believe that Christmas is about Jesus’ humble, beautiful birth in a stable, then why do I spend an entire month talking about shopping, parties, Santa and stress — I am a walking contradiction. Intentionally scheduling margin and free time can truly help tie Christmas to the quiet and peaceful time that it should be. This month I am writing down non-negotiable events and saying no to the rest.
Finding ways to welcome and care for someone else is something we can all do. After getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of our first married Christmas last year, Ryan and I really wanted to do more special things for others this year. There is so much we can do and while it is only the first of December this is my favorite theme this season. Instead of being tight-fisted, I want to be open-handed.