The analogy of living in a snow globe hit home with several ministry assistants enjoying a fall luncheon. “During the holidays I feel like I’m trapped in a blizzard of to-do lists,” remarked a longtime office professional. Her tablemates nodded. Each one knew well the sensation of having scores of demands swirling around her.
Conversation turned to ways they might weather the storm better this year. All agreed trimming tasks would be a challenge, but could be done. Some said they had already made strides toward maintaining saner holiday schedules and were anxious to explore even more ideas.
“To me, attitude is the key,” offered a pastor’s assistant who shared her positive experiences over the past few years. “We need to get over the notion that holidays should be all hurry-scurry. The real blessings of the season are missed when every minute is packed with activities, even if they are good activities.”
Another reformed overachiever noted, “The best thing I did was to take control of my personal agenda. When I quite trying to bake every cookie, make every decoration, and start every family tradition that sounded good to me, I found the time and energy to actually focus on the true meaning of the season.”
- Make two lists of goals, one for work and one for home. It may seem a paradox, but making these two important lists now prevents the need to make a dozen trivial lists later. Decide what you want to achieve during the vital weeks between your two major holidays (say Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day). About each task, ask yourself, “Is there an easier way to do this?” Be selective; list only those activities and achievements that are truly important to you. Fun is important; schedule some.
- Trim your calendar. Ditch all but what really counts. Save optional jobs and appointments for another time. Avoid taking on projects and plans that steer you away from your stated holiday goals. Don’t waste any of this special time doing things that can be done later—or not at all.
- Protect your personal time. All year round, and especially during the holidays, give yourself daily or at least weekly private time to relax and refresh. Do what you like: walk, exercise, read, take a class, enjoy a hobby. Or do nothing at all. But keep this appointment with yourself.
- Give up on perfectionism. Nothing paralyzes accomplishment, saps joy from achievement, and undermines good intentions like the irrational drive to be perfect. It is vital to know when to say, “This is good. Time to move on.”
- Be realistic in your expectations. Memories, not to mention a plethora of magazines and websites, can create an unreasonable scenario of how the holidays should play out. No time of the year has more to live up to than Christmas (perhaps especially in the United States). Stay grounded. Kids will still be kids. Some people will still be inconsiderate. Problems won’t magically solve themselves. You will still get weary. Some recipes will just not be good. Life is life. Nevertheless, expect blessings. They are there to be claimed!