Stressed. Busy. Broke. Hurried. Behind. On-edge. If any of these describe you during the holidays, it may be time for a new approach!
A few years ago I sat under the twinkling lights of our tree on Christmas Eve with tears streaming down my face. I had chugged the eggnog, donned the party dress, and executed tradition after tradition, but I felt I had missed the most important part of the season: presence and deep joy.
December was full of the holiday hustle, and as a result, I missed Christmas. I resolved that night to take it back. Never again would I allow myself to be trapped by the business of the holidays.
Here are a few ways I learned to turn a joy-less season to joy-FULL.
Ask your family what traditions they look forward to and value the most, then put those on the calendar.
We often put time and energy into doing those things that we’ve always done, even if no one really likes to do them! Put the most important traditions down on a piece of paper, and schedule when they will happen. The critical aspect of traditions is developing family identity and creating warm feelings of connection.
We don’t have to do every tradition, every year. Pick 3-5 and do them well. Enjoy them. Plan them. And let them be the life-giving experience that they are designed to be!
Consider simplifying gift-giving.
Would you consider giving the gift of time? What about the gift of an experience? Try thinking beyond the material, and ask yourself, “what would create connection with person?” Maybe it would be a weekend at a local ski resort, or a once a month date. Experiences and memories are priceless gifts that keep giving in the heart.
Make a list of “gifts to buy or make” and prepare in advance. Half of the stress we feel is mental because we procrastinate and then panic about getting everything done.
Gather at the table.
The table is one of the places of the deepest significance all year long, but especially during the holidays. Hearts are connected and tied in this daily ritual through conversations, the sharing of ideas, and the sharing of hearts. Christmas is an opportunity for us to use the table to create an atmosphere of love and care.
Here are a two ways to make the practical aspect of the holiday table manageable:
Bake throughout the season and freeze.
Cookies freeze beautifully, both in dough form, and in cooked form. Bake something special each week and freeze what you don’t need.
Prepare meals in advance.
If you do nothing else this time of year, pick a day to do some serious cooking for the freezer with a friend or two, and get some meals ready that you can pull out when you are short on time. Also plan your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals so that you can cook and freeze as much as possible.
There is a joy and hope this time of year that is unmatched. But we can completely miss it if we aren’t careful, and we’ll end up in tears under the Christmas tree. Let’s do holidays differently — with purpose, and intention, and with an eye bent toward a meaningful Silent Night rather than the holiday hustle.
What’s one way you can reclaim your home this holiday season?
Krista Gilbert is an author, blogger, and speaker who lives in the mountains of Idaho with her husband, Erik, and their four children. Passionate about bringing meaning and fun to the table, she inspires others to live their lives on purpose – encouraging deep roots of connection, faith, love, and grace. When she isn’t blogging at kristagilbert.com, or daring families at meaninginaminute.com, you will find her dancing around the kitchen cooking, laughing wholeheartedly, or racing her kids down a ski run.
Hi friends! Jess here. You all know I LOVE Krista Gilbert and her heart to help us reclaim our homes with deep and intentional family connection. She’s a kindred spirit and I’m learning so much from having her in my life. You can be inspired as well by grabbing her ebook, Reclaiming Home for the Holidays. Krista is the one who gathered us all together for the Advent Hope Chain. She’s all about connecting people in faith and love.