Do you hear that?
That sound in the near distance?
That pounding of metaphorical hooves?
The clicking of an frenetic clock?
The turning of the pages of the calendar?
I got home from a speaking trip over the weekend, walked into my bathroom to start unpacking and there it was.
Sitting on the bathroom counter.
A Christmas list from one of my kids.
It was still like 90 plus degrees outside.
Yet here was the beginning of the madness.
Sitting on the counter, daring me to start the dance.
We’re at the top of that slippery slide, where time seems to speed up in some kind of quantum hiccup and to-do lists and house projects and decorating expectations and cooking duties expand beyond the bounds of a 24 hour day. There has been many a year that I’ve tumbled headlong into Halloween Hoopla and Thanksgiving Turbulence and Christmas Chaos.
But this year, I’m taking a pause at the top of that slide.
Pause with me.
Let’s just take a moment before it starts swirling faster and the gravitational pull of party and presents and the perceived need for perfection begins.
And let’s link arms.
Let’s take some steps to avoid the Holiday Madness this year, shall we?
And let’s decide that building some beautiful memories is better than a sleep-deprived, stress-jittery jaunt, mmmkay?
1. Remember What the Point Is
Somewhere in the depths of December, I misplace the point of the holidays. I know it’s somewhere buried under the costumes for the Christmas show at church, and I’m pretty sure I might have last seen it in the giant Rubbermaid containers that are still shoved in the corner of the living room, their holiday decor items still in process of being hung, draped, staged. The point. Why we do all this merry making and baking. When I remember what the point is, many of the expectations and hurriedness melts away. The point is this: to be with family. To express gratitude. To build some memories, strengthen our tribe, thank God for a Savior. Anything else, from cornucopias to stockings, is just fluff and frill. The point is…the point.
2. Budgets Aren’t Bad
I know, I know. You did the Christmas Tour of posh houses in your community and your Dollar Store decor came up wanting. Or you went to that post-Thanksgiving Tea at your friend’s house and she’s already laid out the most gorgeous gift ensemble in coordinating paper and bows that has ever existed. Or you took the kids en ensemble to the neighbors’ on the last night of October and they had custom made goodie bags for all the kids with a Scripture tucked in for good measure.
And you feel like a Mom Fail.
And your checkbook is already groaning.
Look, if you’ve got the financial bandwidth to go all Pinterest-worthy on the holidays, great.
But if you don’t, then…don’t.
We’ve had holidays of plenty.
We’ve had holidays of pennies.
And the deal is, one or the other wasn’t more special or better or happier.
They all blend into a potpourri of joy and memory and time together.
Regardless of your fiscal situation, joy is free for the giving. Laughter requires no coupons.
And those are the best garlands and gifts of the season.
3. Make it About More and Less
This year, make the giving about giving to others. Not gaming systems, screens, designer whatever. Make it about giving more to those who have little. Sponsor a child in a third world country through Compassion International. Gift a goat through Samaritan’s Purse. Participate in Operation Christmas Child.Give shoes and smiles. Involve your kids. Explain why. Have them see the conditions others live in. Yes, even if your kids are little. It’s never too early to trip the entitlement trap. Explain that you’ll be giving more to those who have less and less to those who have more. And in the doing, make an investment into your child’s capacity for compassion and generosity.
We can do it. We can choose not to fall headlong into the chaos of the season. We can choose to be intentional, measured, thoughtful. We can remove the excess crazy and focus on the best of the season. But this is the time. This moment at the top of that slippery celebratory slide. This is where we choose.
This year, let’s choose well.