Our featured author today lives in the exotic location of L.A. ( Lower Alabama) with her husband Marc. They have raised 3 chicks, and are almost at the empty nest stage. They can be found hunting for land to build on for their 2 border collies and the gaggles of future grandchildren to roam free on. She is a blogger at www.onegrateful.blogspot.com and can be found on Instagram @frontporchview!
We are so grateful for Alison sharing her encouragements with us to help us make our holidays and homes more peaceful!
Christmas Is Not the Boss of Me
I love a good celebration; whether it is an elaborately planned celebration or just a random “come on over” with popcorn and lemonade. The key to joy in both these scenarios is the control. I can control the narrative. I planned the elaborate and I spontaneously welcomed the random. So while I love getting together I have developed a small resentment to the imposed upon gatherings, such as the holidays. Now before you cry “Ba hum bug” and label me Scrooge. indulge me a moment. I love the changing of the seasons, time off from work and school and seeing extended family and friends . What I don't love is the stress from society that revolves around holidays and happenings. I want to celebrate the birth of my Saviour with joy; however when I see Christmas trees in August at Hobby Lobby I want to burn them down.( I realize that is a tad dramatic and for the record have never acted upon such thought.)
Through the years I have implemented some strategies to help make Christmas the beautiful gift it is. It starts with a simple empowering decision. I am the boss of Christmas. I'm not the center of it or the reason for it I just make sure I am the boss of it. It doesn't get to boss me. Hallmark can make all the suggestions it wants, but I get to choose. This may seem obvious and simple but it shapes the month of December from a strung out race to the finish line into a month of intentional peace.
I start with a mission statement of what I want the month to be. Where do I want to spend most of my time? My money? My energy? It might be shopping. Maybe I want to scour the internet for that oh so special gift for cousin Jane, because she has had a rough year. Or I might want to spend most of it doing things that are only available for this season like outdoor activities, plays or concerts. Perhaps you want to focus solely on serving others by volunteering . The mission will look different for everyone, but prioritizing the piece most important to you will bring you the most peace. Once you decide this, write it out loud and proud . In your calendar. on your refrigerator, let your immediate people know. And then when activity #42 presents itself you can see if it fits under your missions umbrella. If not then away it goes.
I find this also helpful when it comes to making family plans. Navigating extended family can get tricky and trying to “make it work” because the calender says December 25th is a recipe for disaster. Family time should be enjoyable not obligatory. Be honest with family. If you're overwhelmed and exhausted at the thought of travel or hosting say so, but also add in how much you want to spend relaxed untethered time with them. I've told many a family member that I would rather be loving each other on a random Tuesday in June with no agenda than cram our time in, forcing nostalgia because the calender says it must be so. I know some families who have waited until after Christmas and celebrated at the Epiphany, around Jan 6th. This almost guarantees everyone can attend because they are not fighting for time off at work. It also allows them to wait for all the after Christmas sales for gifts, saving a good deal of money and sanity.
One of our best Christmases on record was when my children were smaller. We decided to give 3 gifts per child because the Magi brought Jesus 3 gifts for his birthday. Symbolic yes, but also noteworthy that enough is all we need. We also developed a calendar for the month of December and listed an activity that we could do each day to get ready for Christmas. It ranged form baking cookies or making crafts to watching a holiday movie or raking our neighbors leaves. My kids looked forward to uncovering each day to see what we would do. I honestly don't remember a single gift from that year but I still have the picture of the calendar and all the memories,
So make your Christmas peaceful by making it yours, making it intentional and making connections that matter.
If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy Jami Glenn’s article The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I also wrote one about Connecting With Kids that can help you invite children into the holiday activities with you.
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