It happens every Christmas season. I promise myself, usually in July, that this year–for sure–I’ll be ready well in advance for Christmas. This year–for sure–I’ll focus on the real meaning of the season and not get pulled into the commercialized mayhem of the marketplace.
And then, suddenly it’s December and I find myself in the holiday hubbub, frantically running, doing, cleaning, cooking, shopping, wrapping. All those things I promised myself I’d get done before Thanksgiving. For sure!
Does all this sound familiar?
This year I say, “Forget it!” This year I’m making a new deal. This year I’m writing up a Sanity Clause–an emotionally-binding, three-part contract that will help me enjoy more and stress less this season. Maybe it will do the same for you.
(1) I hereby give myself permission to fuss less. Look at your holiday to-do list. You don’t have to do everything. Seriously. Older children can wrap gifts. And younger children are expert cookie decorators. (Who doesn’t love a sugar cookie with half a pound of colored sugar on it? Red plus green equals brown. Who knew?)
And I’m willing to bet there are some tasks on your list that nobody (not even Martha Stewart) needs to do right now. It’s still Christmas even if you haven’t cleaned under the refrigerator in four years. Trust me. And you don’t have to decorate the bathroom from tub to tank. Just light some candles. FYI: Candlelight hides a multitude of housekeeping sins, which is why our house is candle-lit year-round.
(2) I hereby give myself permission to buy less and share more. Give more meaningful gifts. What single working mom wouldn’t love to have you deliver dinner? Or you could offer to babysit her children. (But if her kids are anything like mine, you’ll just want to bring dinner.)
While you’re buying less for those who probably have more than enough to begin with, consider providing for those less fortunate. Give food, clothing, time, and/or money to those in need. Let’s fill those red kettles! Let’s serve those meals! Let’s build those houses!
(3) I hereby give myself permission to focus on the real Reason for it all. Picture the peace and silence of that long-ago night. The shepherds, the story says, were in the fields, watching over their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them saying, “…I bring you good news of great joy…a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:8-11 NIV).
It’s all too easy to get distracted by the trimmings and trappings of the season. It’s easy to lose sight of the “good news of great joy” that is the point of it all: God’s incarnate love.
‘Tis the season that celebrates mercy, love, grace and compassion. Give those gifts to yourself, in gratitude to the One who is mercy, love, grace and compassion. Forgive the past–your past. Embrace the present, this very moment. Anticipate the future–because of Christmas, it’s filled with hope–and be grateful.
Give yourself permission to slow down and celebrate. Enjoy the food, the fellowship, and faith. Embrace the season. Embrace life. Embrace those you love.
In the middle of it all, give yourself permission to stop for a moment. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Hear the angels singing, “Gloria! In excelsis deo!”
This is the “good news of great joy.” A Savior, Christ the Lord, has been born, for you. “Glory to God, in the highest, and on earth peace…”
May there be peace on earth and in your heart as you celebrate this season. Merry Christmas!
© 2010 Mary Pierce. All rights reserved. (You, Dear Reader, have my permission to share this article with anyone you please!)
And now I’m going to get a cup of cocoa and my copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to read by the fire. Give yourself permission to do something equally wonderful. I’ll be back on January 4th to begin another year of laughter and encouragement. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!