(this is sadly not the view out my window. it's a picture I took at my parents house at about this time last year. it's pretty and wintery, and i wanted a pretty wintery picture for this particular post!)
The house is quiet. Literally, at this moment, all I hear is the clicking of my keyboard and the ticking of the clock. Oh, and a car trying desperately to make it up the hillJ Snow is falling outside. I don’t care for snow, except for in December. Something about snow in December is just nostalgically beautiful to me. The snow just started falling an hour or so ago, so it’s still got that bright white look…no tire tracks, no footprints, no mud, just freshly fallen snow with a few flakes still swirling from the grey sky. I have a Christmas song in my head from the car ride home earlier today. In the corner of the room is a giant bag full of gifts I’ve already bought, as I decided to get an early start this year to cut down on the stress that happens every single Christmas. It’s a peaceful moment here.
And yet…my mind races. It is all but peaceful. So. Much. To. Do. So. Little. Time. Is this even true? Do I really have SO much to do? And is there really so little time? Or is this the lie we are fed and buy in to every year at about this time? A lie to take our minds off of CHRISTmas and put it into every single other thing possible. Think about this for a moment.
I’ll tell you where my mind is. Birthdays (there are a lot of December birthdays in my life), sick kids, sick self, money, car troubles, still need to buy gifts for six people, husband’s birthday is tomorrow and I want to make his day perfect, decorating the house (and seriously, am I the only one who hasn’t decorated yet, because I sure feel like it!), extensive baking for an event this weekend, grocery shopping, Christmas card making, other photo projects on a slow computer, organizing a project for church, gift making for staff members at hubby’s work, baking for holiday gatherings, neighbors, friends, etc. That’s a short list. And all of these things must come second to the everyday tasks of housekeeping and meal planning/preparing, running errands, paying bills, and, most importantly, my #1 and #2 jobs, wife and mommy. NOW…lest you think I’m complaining, I’m not! I absolutely love everything on that list (except maybe the bill paying and car troubles!) But that is a pretty long list, and I’m sure a lot of you reading this probably think my list is nothing compared to yours. The fact is, for the majority of us, December turns into craziness whether we want it to or not. This year, I said without giving it much thought, “I am not going to be stressed this Christmas! I’m going to focus on what’s important and get my shopping done early and yadda yadda yadda…” Well, I shopped early but that’s all I’ve done to ease the stress and it didn’t help much. So. I’m throwing my hands up and giving up. Nothing to be done about all of this, so I’ll just get through it like always.
Just kidding. I’m DETERMINED to have a peaceful, even restful Christmas season, and not only that, but I want to grow spiritually instead of being so busy that I actually take a step backwards and have to try desperately to get back on track come January (New Years Resolutions anyone?!) Plan of attack? Cause if you or I are gonna do this, we’re going to need a plan!
I don’t have it all figured out, and I doubt this year will be perfect, but here are some steps I’m taking to eliminate stress.
1 1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize…and once you’ve prioritized, cut out unnecessary things WITHOUT feeling guilty. If you feel guilty, you’ll still be stressed!
2 2. Focus on ONE project/event/task at a time, without thinking about the other 99 things on the list at the same time, and once you’ve completed it, celebrate with some eggnog and THEN start another thing on the list…or take a well-deserved break and watch a Christmas classic or dance to the Mariah Carey Christmas station on Pandora. What? We don’t do that in this house…well this is awkward. Moving on...
3 3. Smile. At everyone. I’m serious. I’m inspired by a woman at church that I just love (could it be her TN accent that makes me feel like she could be my grandma sometimes??), who talks about going into Walmart—a sure place to find some depressed people walking around—and being intentional about smiling at everyone she can possibly make eye contact with. Well I decided to try that today, and it made my day, to be honest! This is getting long, so I won't go into any detail, but some pretty cool things happened today as I went about my day smiling, sick as we all were!
4 4. REMEMBER. Remember what we are celebrating. Every year I say that, but I get caught up in everything else. Nothing wrong with the lights and decorations and gifts and parties or any of that stuff! Something becomes wrong with it though, when it overshadows Christ. When wanting the perfect gift or even finding the perfect gift for someone else takes a higher priority than seeking after Him and causes us to lose sight even momentarily of the reason we are celebrating in the first place, something is sadly wrong and misaligned in our hearts. Find a way that fits into your schedule to really focus and get your mind wrapped around what it is that we as Christians are celebrating this season.* And if you have kids, make it a point to help them understand what and WHO we are celebrating! (any advice of how to do this with a two-year-old is welcome!)
Like I said, I won’t be likely to do any of this perfectly this year. Baby steps. But I will earnestly try to follow my own advice. Family will take priority, and I will stick to my devotions even on the busiest days and try to meditate on them throughout each day. And I will take time to relax and maybe even enjoy the snow (from inside of course) with my favorite cozy blanket and some hot cocoa and maybe a splash of Baileys--yummmmm!, and snuggle with the hubs while watching three uninterrupted hours of It's a Wonderful Life. Happy December!
*John Piper has an Advent e-book that just started yesterday, and shereadstruth.com , an online daily devotional that I love all year round just started an Advent devo yesterday as well. Both take only 5-10 minutes, and both are free, yay!