“Stop. Slow down.” It wasn’t written in this morning’s devotional, but I heard it loud and clear.
It’s only a few days into the Christmas season and I already feel like Christmas is upon me in a big way.
Unfortunately, it is shaping up to be be the kind of Christmas that I don’t want: one filled with busy-ness, overwhelm, and just rush, rush. One just plain filled.
And guess what? This sense of stress I am (already) feeling? It is my own fault.
It blindsided me—struck me unaware—as I simply started off the season with all the eager anticipation of someone who loves crafting, home decorating, cooking and being with my family: “Oooh… 12 different gifts to make in a mason jar? Sounds fun!” or “Yes, I’d like to make homemade cards with the kids to share with our co-op friends” and “Look at this adorable Christmas countdown craft to make with the kids!”
Disappointments that I’m already feeling because we’d been unable to put the Christmas decorations up this weekend (my husband hurt his hand on Saturday morning and needed to rest and I’m not sure when it’s going to happen since we’re busy next weekend).
And just overwhelm in my heart as I simply think about the to-do list for the next few weeks. Overwhelm at making a to-do list (let alone completing it) is probably not a good thing.
In fact, last night I simply couldn’t calm down. “What is the matter with me?” I asked my husband, as I was working on a Christmas craft project (which, honestly, I should have enjoyed making). I had some soft music playing, a candle was lit, and I was alone with my paint, glitter glue and a canvas (all things that usually bring me stress relief)—and yet, I had to stop crafting several times to just take deep breaths.
I didn’t need to hear my husband’s reply because that still, small voice in me knew the answer: Alicia, you’re already doing too much.
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
Today I am making my to-do list. I am writing down absolutely everything that I want to do for Christmas. I am getting all of those ideas out of my head (lots rattling around in there) and typed up on a beautiful Word document. Stuff that I want to do for myself; stuff that I want to do for others; stuff to do for my site; and stuff to do with the family.
I’m printing it out. And then I’m taking my big black Sharpie… and I am crossing out half of them.
I’m giving a copy of the (crossed-out, scratched-off) list to my husband and I’m mailing one to my best friend.
And I’m going to ask them to please, please, please not let me stray beyond my list (no matter what good ideas I may think of or discover). To be brutal with me (because I can be quite convincing, and honestly, I have the most wonderful husband who pretty much says yes to all my grandiose schemes).
To help me say no to even the worthy, amazing activities (yes, even those that may be a blessing to others) so that I may offer my Lord a pure, calm and grateful heart each day… and one rested and joy-filled on Christmas morning.
I know this is going to feel like I’m cutting my leg off. There are just so many AMAZING ways to experience Christmas.
But is this season about me? About my family and I “getting the most out of it”? Truly?
I want to make Christmas memories with my kids and of course to teach them about the most amazing gift of all (the birth of our Savior). But do I need an overflowing activity sheet to allow that to happen?
I need to think of them as options–like in a buffet line–not obligations.
How much better would it be for me to stop the madness in my heart and to slow down? We all say that we want that kind of relaxed, peace-filled holiday, but how in the world can it happen when we keep packing more into every crevice of each December day?
Showing my kids how to create a slowed-down Christmas season that savors and revels in the simple message of God’s birth: now wouldn’t that be a great gift to give them?
Oh, please pray for me. I can already hear my heart whining through this and feeling deprived. I am just too darn good at wanting my family to be involved in everything (and honestly, that’s a comfortable place for us). And I’m really good at listening to the lie that I’m depriving my kids of a “good” Christmas if they don’t participate in every Christmas activity on the planet.
But I know that I must make a dramatic change to have a dramatically different outcome. And obviously, I need more action (and accountability) behind my words.
“Simple and slowed-down”: I understand it may not be the prescription for everyone, but it needs to be my antidote right now.