©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com
The number of things to do for the holidays can stack up higher than the boxes under the tree and stretch longer than a shopping list.
Even when progress is made, so many things STILL need to be done.
Presents to buy. Places to go. Events to attend.
Decorations to do. Cookies to bake. Tree(s) to trim.
Cards to send. Orders to place. Leaves to rake!
As I take this time to visit with you, wearing cozy socks and with a comfy blanket wrapped around my legs, I watch flames flicker in the fireplace and hear Christmas carols playing through the house. Earlier I opened box after box of Christmas décor. The dining room table is piled with decorations that need to be placed.
Not one card has been addressed. Presents need to be purchased. The main tree is still boxed waiting construction and ornament hanging.
I just discovered the Christmas tree for the sunporch (one of those pull up and prop up ones) is missing the inner pole to hold it upright. Ugh!
Consequently, it remains collapsed into a circular mass of faux leaves, poinsettias, pinecones, bright red apples and holly berries like a giant bird’s nest without the depression, or a round prickly rug with lights and ribbons.
I wonder if it can be turned into a floor decoration.
But, right now, as I look at the sunshine streaming through the trees, a sense of calm comes over me.
“Be STILL and know that I am God.”
I pause amid the pounding pulse of the season…
Then my mind starts back racing with all the projects that need to be done, and Wham!, my stomach churns and anxiety rises.
How did I get so far behind? Or was I ever ahead?
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. Luke 21:34 NIV (Emphasis added)
In my heart, I want the Christ of the celebration to reign this season (and every one!)
I want to show up at the manger with Jesus, climb trustingly in the boat in the storm, and join in communion with Him.
Instead of seeing chaos and feeling inner churn, I want to fully contemplate the Christ of the celebration and His love. Want to join me?
The key way to boost holiday spirit is to walk deeply in the Spirit!
Let us begin by being still and spending time with God and His Word and releasing the anxieties in our heart to Him. Position ourselves to ponder and to pray.
To push panic out of the way and invite peace to our heart and home, let’s consider some ways to handle the holiday pressure.
As we do these and other seasonal activities, let’s keep ever present the many gifts we have from God, and the mercy, love, and peace we have through the gift of the Savior.
Use these ideas not as a checklist, but to add enjoyment and find comfort in the chaos. (Unless you are a serious checklist person, in which case, you’re already figuring out how quickly you can get all of them done and the order in which to do them).
Consider these 31 practical ways to boost holiday spirit and cut chaos:
Sit by a fire. Warm yourself. Gaze into it.
Skip any pretense this season and be real.
Silence any thoughts, notions and memories that attempt to distance you from God’s love and cause you to doubt it. We can never do enough, give enough, be enough…but He is.
Set times to visit with friends and family. Be intentional about taking time to connect. Treat them as the gifts they are.
Savor the Scriptures. We enjoy spending time with our friends and family and listening to their stories. So if Jesus is truly friend and family, wouldn’t we want to spend time with Him?
Read through the book of Luke this holiday season. It’s only 24 short chapters!
Smash unrealistic expectations of perfect holidays.
Satisfy the urge for divinity, pralines, molasses cookies, gingerbread men, fresh-baked Christmas cookies, Chex Mix or whatever is your comfort food from childhood.
Soothe your tired feet with a pedicure or aching muscles with a massage.
Surround yourself with items of beauty that remind you of the true meaning of Christmas and brighten your home with memories of special friends and family.
Settle family squabbles or friendship friction. Ask God to give you wisdom and guidance in how to handle these. He offers us peace and forgiveness in our relationship with Him. Shouldn’t we desire to do the same with others?
Seek to draw closer to Christ this season. Talk to Him in prayer; listen to His Words and rejoice in worship.
Shelter in place – by choice. Pick at least one day a week to stay home; enjoy your surroundings.
Soak in a hot bath with muscle relaxing soak.
Splurge on new comfy pajamas and several Christmas-themed books.
Shop for someone you don’t know or don’t know well. Give new items through a charitable organization or directly to a person who could be boosted by it.
Show others the love, forgiveness and hope that Jesus offers, and live in such a way that they see those attributes reflected through you.
Smell the scents of Christmas. Light candles throughout the house. Heat spiced cider on the stove. Bake cookies in the oven.
Step up your exercise to combat all those extra calories. Do something different like dancing to Christmas music or taking long walks in the woods to embrace the change of seasons and scenery.
Share with others – not only with those who have less in tangible items, but also with those whose lives lack love, family or faith.
Serve the Lord with gladness. Approach Him and the holy-days with joy and delight!
Stay focused on Christ. No one can co-opt the Christmas celebration in our heart – except us.
Smile at everyone, especially when you’re tired, frustrated, or annoyed. It’s difficult to think, speak or act in an unkind way when we’re genuinely smiling.
Sparkle. Add some festive or bling to your attire. More importantly, add it to your attitude – in a good way!
Support someone who’s struggling because this holiday time is different and difficult – a lost loved one, a move, a job change, a health issue, a wayward child, a rocky marriage or family fighting.
Surprise someone from your past with a phone call, email or a handwritten note.
Strengthen your spiritual walk during these holy-days by reading Scripture daily. Use an Advent book to further contemplate the richness of the Savior’s presence in our lives.
Sip hot chocolate – add marshmallows or whipped cream!
Spoil yourself with Hallmark Christmas movies and Christmas-themed books.
Squeal with delight when you experience something that makes you happy. Go ahead! Release the inner child!
Stamp holiday cards and not feet this season! Send a card to someone who’s alone – or lonely – this Christmas. Write encouraging Scripture in it.
Spark delight by talking with others about all that is good — and especially the good news of great joy we find through Jesus!
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:10-14 NIV
- What is something special you remember experiencing during a past Christmas holiday season?
- If you could do only one Christmas-related event (other than opening packages!) this year, what would you choose?
- Which of these ways appeal most to you to cut the chaos and boost holy-day spirit this year? Pick your favorite 5 from the list!
- If you had to pick an “S” action word that you most identify with (look at the list), which one would it be? Which word would those closest to you use to describe your actions? Which one do you wish it was?
- What can you NOT do that will allow you to experience more joy this Christmas?
- How will you choose to be still and present with Christ more this holy-day season?
Be…STILL and rest in knowing that He is God.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV
Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™