Okay, so this is not new information. But the reality is that year after year many of us act like the date is a surprise. If we had only known when the holiday season was going to happen we would have been on top of it—cards with notes, thoughtful gifts, gracious acts, expressions of good will, family traditions, pageants, cozy evenings, handcrafted decorations, gingerbread houses—the works! Ha. Or should that be ho, ho, ho?
Sadly, the Christmas season can get so busy its real meaning gets lost in the shuffle—even in the church. That need not be the case. Whatever your holiday expectations, here are some ideas to help you manage your tasks. Not all are for everyone, but perhaps you will find one or two to bring your Christmas closer to what you want it to be.
• Examine the regulars
Make a quick list of all the things you usually include in your holiday schedule. Scrutinize each activity for its current relevance. Sometimes we become slaves to rituals and traditions that no longer have any real meaning to us or to our families. Forcing participation defeats the purpose of the activity.
• Consider new options
Make another list of things you’d really like to do but seldom find time for. Don’t be put off by thinking your schedule is already full. You have the option of revising your Usual list. That’s next.
• Choose priorities
When your two lists are complete, but not before, mark each entry with Will Do, May Do, or Not To Do This Year. Be ruthless in discarding less rewarding activities, but not too quick to pass over those you love but have little time for. Maybe there will be a way.
• Don’t wait
When it comes to scheduling, you can Do It Now, Do It Later, or Don’t Do It At All. Having already dispensed with that last category, determine what things you can do sooner—ahead of the holiday rush. Get those things (choosing gifts, writing notes, adopting a family) underway now, and enjoy them more.
• Or, DO wait
On the other hand, you may want to postpone some things you traditionally do during the season until after the busiest days. How about Valentine greeting cards instead of Christmas ones? Or a January craft night (planning way ahead for next year’s decorations)?
• Let Martha be Martha
Admire, envy, learn from, or dislike Martha but don’t even try to be her. It can’t be done by mere mortals.
She is a corporation of hundreds.
You are fortunate if you’ve never felt overwhelmed at this time of year. The church challenges us with unique opportunities to minister, to bond, to nurture; magazines and such tempt us with beautiful rooms, great food, fantastic trees. We love the season; we want to do it all. Time for a reality check.
• Draw on your experience
What aspects of Christmases past have been wonderful and worth repeating? And, what were the reasons behind some horrible holidays? To forget our mistakes is to repeat them.
As you work over your lists you may decide to get out from under some obligations that came to you by default long ago. Mom always fixes Thanksgiving dinner, Mom always makes the girls’ Christmas outfits... You get the picture.
What alway was isn’t necessarily what has to be. If arrangements no longer hold the charm for you they once did, now is the time to make a change.
• Let all be calm, all be bright
Being frantic and gloomy is no way to celebrate the season that commemorates the birth of Christ. Let joy to the world and peace on earth be at the top of your list.
Best wishes for a blessed Christmas.
And remember, that’s December 25 again this year.