His answer shocked me.
“How can I show you love this Christmas?” I had asked my husband. His first words (“more physical affection”) I expected. But not what came next: “Quiet. Peace. Less doing and more time just enjoying each other.” He looked at me to see if I understood.
His simple Christmas wish was to come home to a haven of rest each evening. In my quest to create a magical Christmas experience for my family, I had overloaded our social calendar and run us all ragged. And I’m not the only one.
A sobering American Psychological Association study showed that 92% of Americans report feeling more stressed during the holidays, the season that’s supposed to be about peace and joy. And whatever the other 8% is doing, I know I want to be part of THAT statistic this year.
Perhaps the key to recapturing the spirit of Christmas comes not from doing more but doing less. Here’s what we’re doing, and I invite you to join along:
- Nix unnecessary holiday traditions. Ask each family member what their 1 or 2 favorite Christmas traditions is and plan to make those happen. Then, release yourself and your family of the pressure of having to do anything else. For example, skip the holiday concert that no one really enjoys and grab some popcorn and a movie in its place. Don’t put lights up on the house if no one cares for them. Choose one or two cookie recipes to make with your little baker and save the other sixteen recipes for another time. And enjoy your new-found quiet and freedom.
- Simplify the holiday menu. If our family is anything like mine, family get-togethers means an abundance of food. This comes with its own dose of stress and tiredness. If you’re hosting a holiday meal, consider simplifying the menu (or ordering take-out) and using disposable dishes. If you’re invited to a family meal and have no control over the menu, look for ways to help out and invest in the people around you. Use conversation starters like these ones and listen to their answers. Make meals a time to focus on the fellowship, not the meals.
- Quiet the noise. In the midst of the holiday hoopla, create space to reflect on the Reason for this season and worship Him. Turn off the Christmas music, put your phone away, and spend time with the Lord. The inner stillness you discover in His presence will translate into external stillness and quiet. Invite your family to read through an Advent devotional like this one that draws your attention to Jesus and invites you into deeper communion with Him.
- Unplug and recharge. As a family, agree on several times throughout the month that you will all put devices away and spend time face-to-face with each other. Pull out the board games, puzzles, and deck of cards and enjoy activities with each other. Forget about uploading the moment to Instagram or Facebook. Be fully present, and soak in the beauty what’s transpiring in front of you.
There are lots of things we could be doing this holiday season, but when we turn the calendar page into the next year, few of them will be remembered. So instead of adding another Pinterest project to our already-length list, let’s consider what we can leave out so we can enjoy a less-stressful and more restful Christmas season.
Our spouses and children will thank us.