As I write this, holiday decorations are going up all over the place. I can already feel the strain of time as I think of shopping, cooking, and finishing our schoolwork before Christmas comes. People are already asking what our plans for the holidays are, and the truth is we don’t have any.
My parents are divorced, and our sisters are far flung so family celebrations are difficult to schedule and keep us pretty busy come December.
Then there are church events, extra-curricular activities and the fact my family still needs dinner every night and clean clothes to wear.
It can all be a bit overwhelming.
Even now, I know I have to keep thing simple this holiday season. For the sake of sanity and survival.
What about you? Does the thought of the holiday season bring you nothing but joy, or are you, like me, always a little apprehensive when you think, “How on earth will we get it all done?”
Maybe you find yourself somewhere in between. Either way, your holidays and your heart will benefit from a bit of simplicity this season, and to simplify the season, first you’ll have to FOCUS.
Let’s face it. Often one of the most challenging aspects of the holiday season is the fact it often feels like a whirlwind, and we’re just being swept from one thing to the next. We sit down on January 2 and wonder where all the time went.
In the fray, we lose our focus.
Here are five simple ways to get it back.
5 WAYS TO SIMPLIFY THE HOLIDAY SEASON:
Feed Your Family
First and foremost, feed your family.
No, I’m not talking food because, let’s face it, during the holidays, there’ll probably be plenty of that. I’m talking the food that fuels them. Spiritual food. It would seem silly to have to remind you that during this time of celebrating the Savior’s birth, we really need to focus on him, but to be honest, in the whirlwind of holiday going and gathering, a rushed reading of the Christmas story is sometimes all we do. The first key to simplifying the season is to stay focused on the reason for it.
How can we do that?
Daily devotions for your family are a good place to start. They don’t have to be elaborate or long, just a brief time of helping your family focus. To help you do that, I’ve written a series of daily devotions for families for the month of December. Each includes suggestions for family worship and personal worship as well. Check it out! It’s a simple way for your family to keep Christ in Christmas this year.
Organize Ahead of Time
Of course, all the good intentions in the world won’t help if you don’t do a little organizing first. Don’t get me wrong. No one will ever read my blog for organizational inspiration. That would be the height of hypocrisy. But, even I know that a little planning goes a long way when it comes to a peaceful holiday season. I mean, surely I’m not the only one to wake up and realize I’ve scheduled more than one event on the same day….at the same time. There’s an app for that, you know. It’s called a calendar. I’m a big proponent of using a planner each and every day. I even have a dedicated Instagram page for all things planning.
I doubt I’m also the only one to get all the way to Christmas telling my kids “We’ll do that tomorrow.” Crafts, cookies, calling Grandma….whatever it is. When I have the time, I don’t have the supplies. When I have the supplies, the time has past.
Shopping lists, y’all.
They’re for more than groceries and Christmas gifts.
I like to sit down well before Thanksgiving and do some serious Pinterest searching to find crafts and recipes for my kids that are simple and straightforward and actually attainable. Then I add the supplies to my shopping list in my planner BEFORE the holidays happen. That way, when we have some down time, we can go ahead and enjoy it together….without a trip to Wal-Mart.
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Cut Down the Chaos
One shopping trip for all your kids’ holiday fun? That’s definitely one way to cut down on the chaos of Christmas, but there are so many others. For instance, I love Christmas ornaments. I mean, I would have a tree in every room just for the ornaments I have. They come from all over the world. I treasure the memories they call to mind, and I do love to decorate.
I do not like to un-decorate. Who does?
One way to cut down the chaos is to simplify your surroundings. Keep your decor simple this year. Use only the items that mean the most to you.
This year, we will have one tree. All of our favorite ornaments will be on it. We might just give away the rest. Our den’s decor will consist of my nativity scenes from around the world. We’ll keep it simple and sweet and easy to clean up.
I’m also taking a long, hard look at our schedule this year. As I told my daughter yesterday, you don’t have to accept every invitation you’re given.
I know, I know. Saying “no” can be difficult, but it can still be done.
You have to decide what your family needs to do, what you want to do, and what you can do without.
And, don’t feel badly about it.
After all, no one needs to see The Nutcracker three times.
Unplug and Unwind
That being said, one of the surest ways to create chaos during Christmastime is by comparing your holidays to everyone else’s. I want to watch that! I need that recipe! We should go there! We should do that! And all because you spent an hour on Facebook before you went to bed last night. To simplify your holiday season this year, unplug for a large part of it. Spend time sharing your experiences with the people right around you rather than sharing them with everyone on the internet. You can’t compare yourself to others if you have no idea what they’re actually up to. Take that time off to unwind and relax for a change. Instead of reading status updates, read a book by the fire. Don’t just watch videos about the best way to make hot chocolate, mix some up then sip it in the silence.
Savor the Savior
As you do, take time to focus on the first Christmas. Spend time pondering the things that Mary pondered as she held the God-Child close while angels greeted shepherds and wise men sought true wisdom. Think about what it must have been like to be visited by peasants and by kings and by God himself. Consider the fear they faced as they fled to Egypt. Don’t let the miracles seem mundane. Ask God to show himself to you in new ways through old stories. Sing hymns and worship wildly. Simplify the season as you savor the Savior.
Charlie White is the homeschooling mother of four behind the blog MississippiMom.com, where she writes about faith and family and copious amounts of coffee. Be sure to read her series 31 Things I Want My Kids to Know and 31 Days of Wisdom for Moms Like Me. Follow Charlie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for encouraging articles, great recipes and more!