At this time of year, the word “simple” takes on a whole new and challenging meaning, doesn’t it? It is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of holiday activity. In fact, we can see the busyness as unavoidable, as if it is just another part of the season. We complain about the fatigue we feel while pushing through it, almost looking forward to January 2nd when things settle down. And if we’re not careful, we can even miss the celebration entirely.
For a lot of years I embraced the annual nuttiness. I’m always busy, as most of us are. But as late November approached, and my to-do list grew, so did my excitement. I’d kick into high gear, humming Christmas carols while doing the extra cooking and running around. To me, the hectic pace was a reminder of the special days that were coming soon.
I have to admit that my mindset in those holiday seasons was pretty worldly. My thoughts were honestly more about decorating and baking than recognizing the wonder of Advent and Christmas. And, not surprisingly, I was becoming less and less joyful as time went on.
The idea of simplifying started to sound better and better to me. Just a glance at my overflowing daily planner was proof of how complicated I had been making the end of the year. But simplifying the holidays wouldn’t easy. I had made activity such an important part of the season that I didn’t know how to pull back without losing some of the enjoyment.
Actually, the first step in the right direction came through an idea my husband had to start buying World Visiongifts for our family. That ended up simplifying in some wonderful ways.
Buying all our presents in one place and online pretty quickly won me over. The whole process was less stressful, and gave me some opportunities for quiet time. I found moments to devote to worship and give thanks for the real blessings of the season.
As I did that store hopping and shopping, my thoughts were all about other people, and I guess, myself too. I hope so-and-so likes what I got for them…
Choosing donations to give in the name of family members gave the process a deeper and richer meaning. Instead of getting enjoyment from pleasing others, I got excited about getting others involved with helping to do God’s work around the world.
Letting go of some long-held routines and rituals has been tough. But the bottom line for me is, this season is meant to be simple. It’s a celebration of what really matters: Jesus was born, a gift of love sent from His Father in Heaven to us! I don’t want to miss any more of the party.