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The words of the comic strip made me groan and smile at the same time, because that’s exactly how I felt.
I had so much to do: so much to buy, so much to make, so much to wrap, so much to bake, so much to decorate, so many cards to write . . .
There were so many expectations.
And there was so much fear that if I didn’t do all of it, and do it well, people would think less of me.
If I had asked Jesus what he thought about all I had to do (you know—to get ready to celebrate his birthday), he might have reminded me of this verse:
But I didn’t ask him (though I did repeatedly, and desperately, ask him to help me get everything done!) and so I struggled for years with Christmas anxiety—each year enjoying the holiday a bit less.
The year I realized the sound of Christmas carols was making me feel emotionally upset and physically ill, I knew something had to change.
I finally asked God to show me how to make Christmas better: to honor him, to provide a beautiful celebration for my family and myself, and to do it peacefully.
Why hadn’t I thought to do this sooner?
All those years I’d been planning a birthday party, but never thinking to ask the guest of honor what kind of celebration he wanted. (As it turns out, Jesus’s tastes are pretty simple, and he doesn’t even mind that the other guests are the ones who get the gifts!)
He helped me realize that all those items on my holiday to-do list were OPTIONAL, and he gently showed me that by choosing to do them, I was not only stretching myself and my budget way too thin, I was setting my children up to do the same when they became adults. (Ouch!)
It became clear that I needed to refocus . . . to remember what I was meant to be celebrating . . . to remember WHO I was meant to be honoring . . . and to remember that stress and debt and frayed nerves are never his plan for me.
And so I began the process of simplifying Christmas. It didn’t happen all at once. Learning to say “no” to things I’d always said “yes” to was not easy. I’m actually still working on it—making a bit more progress every year.
These are some things I’ve learned: advice I wish someone had given me way back when . . .
And the flip side of that . . .
And finally, if the idea of giving less and doing less this Christmas makes you worry that you’ll seem like a grinch, take a few minutes to Google the words SIMPLIFY CHRISTMAS. You’ll see that this is a movement that is gaining popularity because it actually enhances the holiday and makes people happier. You’ll find so many great ideas—especially about scaling back gift-giving and teaching children the importance of balance and gratitude.
Photo by Freestocks.org via Unsplash
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