There are so many people dealing with the stress of last minute holiday preparations – the shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, and all the events and activities of the season.
Not me! This is the first year that I’ve not experienced any of that! Though initially a result of a good case of the blues, pulling back the reigns of our holiday planning has ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! And one that will not be forgotten as we look to years ahead!
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t enjoyed some shopping or wrapping, cooking and even cleaning. I’ve been to several holiday events and shared wonderful evenings with friends and family. This year, we’ve just been a little more on top of picking how we spend our time and money – and it has made all the difference!
This year my husband and I decided we would get just a small gift for each other. We also chose to limit the number and value of gifts bought for our family – focusing first on the children! The side effect of those plans were a much shorter shopping list, less time wrapping, a focus to shop earlier, wrap earlier and ship earlier – done, done and done! Those choices also allowed us to help out some people who needed a little boost at the holidays! An opportunity to go beyond our want for things we don’t really need, and have a heart for those who are truly experiencing need!
We also chose to better manage our holiday calendar. I’ve never been one with a need to always be doing something. Not that I prefer to sit around all the time, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t value my down time! So we looked at everything happening and considered how much we wanted, or needed, to attend each activity. While our calendar has kept us fairly busy for the few weeks leading to Christmas, it was not overwhelming. It was also open enough that when unexpected things came up that we wanted to focus on – we had the time, without the stress of figuring out how!
The biggest thing for me has been having a little time to reflect, contemplate and more specifically, a time to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas!
We just lost a very special person from our church. We hadn’t known him that long, just a couple of years. He had been battling cancer for quite a while and had lived much longer than his prognosis had indicated. My husband was especially drawn to him and in the last year had built a friendship that meant a lot to him. What we loved most about this man was his passion for God! A passion that shown more brightly than the effects of his illness could ever overshadow!
If you asked him how he was doing, he would answer honestly, but then quickly change the subject because he was more interested in how you were doing and what was going on in your life. When he prayed – and wow could that man pray – he prayed for others. While we will miss him terribly in this life, we know that God has a plan for him in Heaven and that we will see him again some day! There are a couple of people in our lives that we have come to cherish from a spiritual perspective. People, who just by the way they live their lives, have been a true inspiration to us. This person was one of them and we pray to be as humble, compassionate and caring for others as he was each day!
We’ve seen a lot of loss over this past year – family, friends, mothers, patriarchs and mentors. There has been a lot of sadness, and it has been hard at times to take it all in. I thought that closing myself off was the best way to get through the holiday and deal with my grief. Yet I have found that by focusing on the true reason for the holiday, I have been able to find the joy and peace I’ve been praying for!
For me, the true breadth of the season is to honor the birth of Christ and why he was sent. The forgiveness of sins and the gift of life – everlasting! What a gift! One that we did not earn and cannot work to repay. A gift we don’t truly deserve and yet it is offered to us freely! What hope there is in that one decision – to follow Christ!
And so we celebrate this holiday, with those we cherish and with the memories of our loved ones who have passed close in our hearts. Please remember the hope of this season, and find time to take it all in and enjoy it! I did, and it has made all the difference!
A very Merry Christmas to all!