As I walked the aisles of the craft store, bustling with people and excitement, I saw the old familiar phrase.
It was printed across napkins, disposable plates, wooden signs and tin containers. In reds and greens, both beautifully and sometimes simply scripted…
It sounds good—in theory, right? The Christmas season revolves around making merry. Gifts, parties, treats, and happy sights fill our imagination when we think about this incredible time of year.
“Merry” is defined as “cheerful and lively”, but so often December comes and I find myself anything but that. More like “cranky and exhausted”. Can you relate?
All that making of merriment can be chaotic, and somewhere along the line I lose sight of the point of it all. Or sometimes the weight of life and loss can wear on me and I wonder how I can ever be merry when all I feel is stress and sadness.
Going into December 2016 I knew one thing: I didn’t want to just “make it through” the season. I didn’t want to get to the end of Christmas and wonder where it went.
As I brought my cares to the Lord, I felt Him whisper into my heart that He wanted more for me this Christmas. He took me back to simplicity. Peeling away the trappings of what the world says, “this is what Christmas should look like”.
So this is how I’m doing it. I’m calling it Operation: Seize the Season. I think you’ll find it pretty easy to remember since it spells out that old familiar word…
What do you remember most about your childhood Christmases? Chances are, not anything elaborate. Over the years I’ve learned that the memories I treasure most are of the times I slowed down and truly connected with those around me.
So what will my husband and children remember at the end of this season? How about ten years from now? Probably not the expensive gifts or elaborate events. My prayer is that I would not be fooled into trading precious time with my kids for these short-lived pleasures.
None of us live in a bubble—there will be Christmas chaos! But in the midst of the chaos we can still create special memories when we take a moment to pause and connect with those we love.
Maybe, for you, it’s putting present-wrapping on hold to curl up with your 2-year old and a book. Maybe it’s buying pre-made Christmas cookies so that you can have time for a special date. Or maybe it’s changing traditions to be close to the ones who need you most this Christmas.
Mindfully Merry: What do you want those closest to you to remember about this Christmas 10 years from now?
Friend, in case no one has told you recently,..
You are enough.
You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You are perfectly loved and perfectly worthy just as you are.
If you ever doubt that, just think- what is Christmas about? God, sending His Son as a ransom on your behalf to bridge the gap between you and Him.
Don’t give into the Pinterest pitfall. Your house, your cookies, your children, and yard do not need to look like they are straight out of Better Homes and Gardens.
You do not have to home-make every dessert.
You do not have to light up your entire front yard like the Griswalds.
You do not have to have floors clean enough to eat off of.
You do not have to make an elaborate scene with a toy elf every. Single. Night.
If one (or more) of those is your “jam”, by all means go for it!
But for the rest of us who are just struggling to put something edible on the table every night and remember whether the juice goes to Bobby’s class party and the cupcakes go to Suzie’s or vice versa—let those three glorious truth-filled words resonate in your heart and mind and free you from the burden of perfection: You are enough.
Mindfully Merry: One of my favorite authors, Lysa TerKeurst, says we must ask ourselves, “Am I doing this because I am loved, or because I am trying to earn love?”. Next time you find yourself striving, ask yourself this simple question.
Now that you know that you are enough, you can experience something that very people do at Christmastime: Rest.
A lot of activities cease this time of the year to make room for holiday festivities. Use that time that would have been spent at a kid’s basketball game, or whatever to do something you enjoy. Read a book. Take a nap. Go see a movie.
Parent note: Kids need rest too! Just because your kids are out of school doesn’t mean you need to entertain them every second. I know my kids are busy little bees during the school year, so when they’re on break we do a lot of lying around the house in our pajamas, and plan only a couple fun outings to break up the monotony.
Mindfully Merry: “Self-care” is often viewed as selfish or optional, but it is an imperative part of mental and physical health. When was the last time you took a day off? Went for a relaxing walk? Did something you enjoy? Schedule in some restful “me time” in the coming weeks (P.S.- errands alone don’t count!)
If I'm honest, the “Christmas story” has, over the years, become so matter-of-fact for me that I often miss the miraculous in it all. Christmas should be a time to pause and ponder on the story of the gospel with grateful hearts.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to take for granted that the God of the universe sent His only Son for me. For me.
You don’t have to spend hours reading every version and translation of Jesus’ birth. This year I’m taking time to reflect through one of the many available advent devotions in the Bible app on my phone. Each one is a short 4-5 minute read and includes Bible verses that go along with the day’s focus. It’s that easy!
Taking time to reflect keeps our hearts in a posture of gratitude and keeps our focus on Christ.
Mindfully Merry: Take a few minutes over the next couple of days to read the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke 1-2. Put yourself in the story and imagine what it must have been like to experience the arrival of the promised Messiah. Journal the verses or events that stick out to you the most.
Say yes to what matters, say yes to who matters.
Say yes to slow. Say yes to snuggles. Say yes to spontaneous. Say yes to that extra cookie. Say yes to what brings you genuine enjoyment.
Knowing our yeses determines our noes.
You don’t have to attend every holiday school work and church function.
You don’t have to visit every family member on Christmas day.
You don’t have to keep every “tradition”.
You decide who gets your yes.
Mindfully Merry: Who and what do you need to say yes to this year?
In John 10:10 Jesus said that He came so that we could have "a great full life" (NLT). Not just “making-it-through” or “fake-it-til’-you-make-it” life.
A great full life.
We can put the merry back in our Christmas by slowing down, showing up, and being present in our own lives; remembering with grateful hearts all that God has done for us and giving the best of ourselves to those whom God has entrusted to us.
A little about me...
Hi, I'm Katie!
Wife to Craig, mom of three, author, writer, Jesus-follower, Bible teacher, and coffee enthusiast.
Follow me as I follow Christ and share my heart throughout the journey.
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