December has quite the ironic twist. It’s the time of year we most intend to reflect on the birth of our Savior, and yet it is the month we have the least amount of time for reflection.
We are already busy people, but then we somehow add to our normal daily busyness massive amounts of holiday busyness. Christmas time brings Christmas decorations, Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, Christmas cookies, Christmas pictures, Christmas traditions, Christmas crafts, Christmas events, and a variety of other Christmas activities and tasks. As a child, this was all being done for us, so it really was the “most wonderful time of the year!” BUT, as we reach adulthood something changes… we are now in charge of making all these “most wonderful” moments happen – and it takes a lot of work!
Our endless Christmas activities are hopefully intended to celebrate and focus on the “reason for the season.” But we all know amidst the December to-do list, it is easy to lose sight of that goal. In fact, Christmas can quickly become the most stressful time of the year, and it might be the time in which we are most distracted. So before we get too far into December, is there anything we can do to make Christmas a highlight of our year – not just because we did all of the “fun” things – but because we successfully put our attention on the celebration of our Savior’s birth? I hope so! Two specific ideas come to my mind…
So before we get too far into December, is there anything we can do to make Christmas a highlight of our year – not just because we did all of the “fun” things – but because we successfully put our attention on the celebration of our Savior’s birth? I hope so! Two specific ideas come to my mind…
Keep Things Simple
Some of our Christmas busyness we can’t control. There are places we need to be and things we need to do. However, there are some aspects of our schedule that we can plan in order to not end up stressed or overcommitted. So in the month of December, let’s look for ways to simplify where we can!
I recently experienced the benefit of simplification. For years my husband and I have been doing a tradition that seemed like one we should do. But it really felt more like a burden than a profitable activity. So the other night we decided to skip it this year. What a relief that was. One less thing! But not only one less thing, one less thing that wasn’t serving its purpose. The tradition wasn’t causing us to focus more on Jesus; it was just something else that added to our busyness.
What do you add to your plate that is not truly helpful? Maybe for you, all the traditions and activities are helpful and good – but would it be more helpful if you didn’t do them ALL every year? Would it leave more time for you to reflect on God’s divine gift if you reduced some of the extra stuff?
If you are a mom of young ones, I imagine you are more prone to a clutter of activities. When we have little children, we want Christmas to be especially wonderful; We try to maximize all the teaching moments of the season. But don’t think simplicity can’t accomplish the goal. In fact, Christmas with a calm and joyful mom who is focused on Jesus is far more beneficial for your kids than if they engaged in a variety of “special” activities with a stressed or overly exhausted mom (just ponder for a moment what the latter scenario is actually teaching your kids). Keep it simple, keep your focus, and Christmas will be wonderful.
Keep First Things First
Regardless of how simple you keep things, December will still be busy. If you want each day to be successful in terms of keeping your attention on Jesus, you need to daily keep your attention on Jesus. That sounds obvious, but it’s true. The problem is, it’s hard to do! When our lives are overflowing with things to do, it feels like our “quiet time” (AKA time spent with God via time in the Bible and prayer) is the most optional item on our to-do list. We can’t think along these lines.
To keep our focus where it should be, we need to make a resolve. We need to commit to keeping first things first. We need to renew our desire to give God the attention he is worthy of. Then we just need to do it. Do whatever it takes to spend daily time reading God’s word, daily time talking to him in prayer, and daily time focusing on him. Wake up earlier, stay up later, or resolve to stop at some point in the day, put all things aside, and give God your attention.
One practical suggestion would be to “switch up” your devotion time a little during the holiday season. Maybe you can add a Christmas devotional (you can find a good suggestion here). You can read the Christmas story and look for details you haven’t noticed. You could re-listen to past Christmas sermons and spend time journaling afterward. You could pray through a Christmas hymn. Instead of struggling to keep your regular “quiet time” routines because of Christmas, maybe you can turn the Christmas season into a catalyst for better quiet times!
Even if your devotion time remains basic and routine-like, don’t embody the irony of Christmas – a Christian who is celebrating Christ, but is too busy to focus on Christ. It can happen to all of us, but let’s not let it!
Best Christmas Ever!
Surely our December days will still be long and full for the next few weeks. But, with a little bit of thoughtfulness and resolve, it is possible that this could be the best Christmas season ever!
I bet if you made sure you were only picking the best things to spend time on, and not allowing the excess to overwhelm you, you would finish the month with no regret (though you might still be exhausted).
More importantly, if you gave God your best every day, and didn’t let time with him go to the wayside, you would finish the month strong. You would know regardless of what didn’t happen – the most important thing did happen – you successfully put your attention on the celebration of our Savior’s birth – and that is what Christmas is all about!
Don’t let today go by without making any necessary plans for simplification, and above all, make sure to keep first things first!