Be still: resist the Christmas urgency.
The Christmas season tends to scream URGENCY,
from the way marketers flash goods in our face like theres a scarcity of products and we must grab them all up before someone else gets them,
to the jam-packed calendars we cram full of good things we believe will bring comfort and joy to our season.
We fear missing out,
we fear not doing enough for our kids,
we fear that the season won’t deliver the happiness it promised unless we run ourselves ragged crafting, creating, and making the magic happen for our kids.
I wonder if we asked our kids what they really wanted to do, if our holiday would look any different? Would we stop running from event to event? Stop spending on experiences, but instead, find joy in togetherness at home?
In 2011, I asked my kids what their “Christmas non-negotiables” were–the things they look most forward to during the Christmas break. Their answers surprised me and included ice skating, counting the lights on our way to church, watching the Muppet’s Christmas Carol, gingerbread house decorating (Wilton kits) and snowmobiling (my dad has snowmobiles and we usually get a ride or two in on Christmas vacation).
Their list was nothing like mine. I say all this to say, maybe the things you are stressing over are not that big to your family.
It can’t hurt to ask each child, “What is the best thing we do at Christmas time?” “What do you most look forward to?”
In our house, it’s not the running and doing that we remember, it’s the staying put and just being that we remember, yet, for so many years I got it wrong. I thought they’d be happiest seeing every lights display and holiday production in our area. We got dressed up and went out, when what they would have preferred was to stay home with a relaxed, happy mom.
Here are a few “stay put” ideas for those of you who are tired of the bustle, want to stay away from shopping centers, and are ready to just be still and be happy in the season.
- Cut paper snowflakes. Here’s a quick reminder on how to fold the paper from the Farmer’s Almanac. I still have some of our prettiest snowflakes pressed into books, and I hang them year after year. Did you know you can starch them and iron them between paper if you are careful and move the iron continually? It irons out the folds, and the starch gives them a tiny bit more bulk.
- Read your favorite Christmas book. Some of our favorites over the years include If You’re Missing Baby Jesus, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Christmas in the Big Woods, and for older children, Keeping Holiday.
- Listen to your favorite audiobook.
- Make tea and invite friends in for sandwiches.
- Decorate with what you have available. Send the kids into the yard to find greenery or leaves and tuck them into jars and tie with ribbon.
- Watch your favorite movie and have popcorn.
- Look at the Christmas tree and beautiful lights. Just be still!
- Enjoy good music, like The Messiah or The Nutcracker. If you play an instrument, get some seasonal sheet music to enjoy. (Many free online!)
- Write letters to friends far away.
- Make Christmas tags or ornaments.
Tis the season to slow down and savor, to be thankful for what’s in front of you. These days that will pass so quickly and be gone forever. Days so full that we might just miss them if we don’t purposefully stop and notice. This is the day–the moment–the Lord has made. It’s up to us to rejoice and be glad in it right now. Joy comes in the present. It’s not found in the chase for more, or in the memory of the good old days. It’s found now.
Be still, be present, be thankful. <3