A big thanks to everyone for sharing. Congratulations to our winners M.H. and Nicole!
Eight-hundred-ninety-seven Christmas card designs. That’s how many options I had to choose from for my annual family Christmas card. Once I narrowed down the design, then it was time to choose a font out of a possible 42 choices. And create a custom caption. Finally, it was time to check out. No, I don’t want my return address pre-printed for an extra fee. Or the lined envelopes. Or the add-on option of a 5×7 photo with stand-up easel for an extra $25. No, no, no. Please, just take my money, send me my cards, and leave me alone.
Sometimes I long for the simpler days when there were fewer options bidding for our attention and the standard norm was boxed Christmas cards from the drugstore. On the heels of writing my new book, Rest Assured, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the holiday rush can rob our souls of rest.
In an effort to resist the rush and make sure my heart is in the right place during the holidays season, I try to ask myself two key questions before I commit to anything that can contribute to a frenzied soul.
Question #1: What is the payoff?
Do I really need to make the pie crust from scratch rather than buy a store-bought one? Do I have to hang garland on the interior stairwell and exterior windows of my home? Ditto for the plethora of string lights that are still sitting in boxes in my foyer waiting for my husband to get to them. Do I have to host the Sunday school Christmas party? Do I have to find the perfect gift for my extended family members rather than opt for gift cards to their favorite store? Do I have to say “yes” to a holiday-something every single weekend? Or, can I take it down a notch (translation: give it a rest!) and resist the rush?
The truth is, the payoff (“Your pie tastes amazing!” “Your lights look awesome!” “I loved your Christmas card!” “You always choose the best gifts!”) is not worth it if it leaves you on life support by the time Christmas day arrives. The holidays were meant to be savored, not suffered through.
Which brings me to the most important question…
Question #2: What is the trade?
I shared a quote in my Rest Assured book that has become a mantra of sorts for me when I consider the true cost of something.
Henry David Thoreau once said, “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
I wish I’d subscribed to this quote back when I was raising young kids and over-committed to far too many outside activities, including ministry-related ones. By the way, this is a great quote to keep in mind when we are tempted to over-spend while doing our Christmas shopping (hello, debt and the real PAY-OFF!). The bills will come due and the Christmas joy (thanks Mom and Dad — I love my iPhone 6!) will be short-lived.
How might the two questions above change the way you do Christmas?
Below are a few shortcut solutions I have adopted this year or in past years in an effort to give it a rest over the holidays:
Do all your shopping online rather than face the stress of crowded stores and limited parking.
If you normally go all out on decorations and lights, consider taking it down a notch and doing a scaled down version every-other-year.
When it comes to gift buying for members of your extended family, get a list of their favorite places to shop and opt to give gift cards this year instead.
Block at least one weekend night during the holiday season to stay home rather than commit to back-to-back parties.
Declare a social media free Christmas and let yourself off the hook for posting pics of your favorite family time memories. Be present and enjoy the memories in the moment.
Commit to spend 10-15 minutes each morning reading God’s Word and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.
Have a family meeting and have each family member share a Christmas activity or memory that gives them rest in their soul. Find a way to put those activities on your calendar.
Before the holiday rush begins, make a list of the holiday related activities and tasks that take the biggest toll on your soul and think of ways to either simplify them or eliminate them.
What about you? How do you resist the rush and give it a rest this holiday season? (All those commenting will be entered in a give-away where we will draw two winners one week from today. Each winner will receive a copy of my book (paperback or audio, your choice) and a Christmas tea collection to encourage rest!)
Ready, set, go!