The Holidays are Here!
It’s that time of year! The holidays are upon us, and there’s a lot to do. Shopping, baking, hosting, gift wrapping, the list goes on and on. The time can absolutely fly by and at the end of the tinsel covered marathon, we breathe a sigh of relief. It’s only natural, the holidays come with a hefty price tag (both literally and figuratively).
As of late, our family has been learning about the value of being intentional. Intentional with time, money, resources and even emotions. I’m usually one of the first ones to jump into the festive chaos, and I probably will to a point, but we want something a little different this year. We don’t want to be swept along in a current that leaves us financially and physically depleted at the end of the year wondering what just happened.
Finding boundaries that matter to your family can serve as the floodgate protecting your values. Intentionally enjoying the holidays will look different in every family (as it should), but there are a few steps we can all take to get there.
1. What Do You Value?
What are the things that are important to you (individually) and your family over the holidays? Find some time together, maybe over a meal, to talk about what the holidays mean to your family. I’m often surprised by the answers, especially from kids. Our perception of what they value might be different then what they actually desire for the season.
Individually, what is important to you over the holidays? It’s easy to feel selfish for asking this question because this is the season where wives and mothers give 110% to their families. It’s a wonderful thing to fill that role for our families, but a wife/mom enjoying the holidays herself is a much more enjoyable presence then one who is frazzled.
Years from now, when we look back on our holiday seasons, I doubt we will fondly remember all of the administrative work we did for the holidays. What we will probably remember is the whole family presently gathering together, just to be together.
2. Savor The Simple Things
One of my greatest goals is to be able to savor without requiring perfection. In the middle of a messy room, with a huge to-do list on the fridge and the clock counting down; savor a hug with my daughter, a quiet prayer or even a piece of chocolate that is all my own. As long as we chase the perfect circumstances in order to savor, we will be robbed of many lovely moments. The source of the power to savor is gratitude. Gratitude despite unmet expectations and pretty circumstances. The key? Being intentional and prayerful. Ask the Lord to give you the heart to see all the lovely moments. Intentionally look for these moments; write them down, tell your spouse about them. Choose the headlines of your day throughout this holiday season.
3. Conquer Social Media
Have you ever timed how long you spend on social media in a day? I have, and it wasn’t pretty; it was like a slap in the face. Doing this constant, “I have a minute to breath, I’ll quickly check my feed” takes away your minute to breath. All those little moments spent scrolling add up, but more than that, it forces you to multi-task. It’s proven that people are less effective when they multi-task, but that isn’t limited to physical activities.
It might be just me, but my mind can stay in social media land after I’ve put my phone away. Hence, mental multi-tasking. I’m not coming from an “all social media is bad” platform. I do believe that social media, like most things, needs to remain under our control, not the other way around. That balance looks different for everyone, but find what works so that you aren’t robbed of moments to breathe and the ability to be present and focused. Here are a few ideas to help control social media.
- Before you jump on a social media platform, set a timer for how long you want to be there.
- Don’t keep social media tabs open on your devices.
- Turn off notifications.
- Schedule your social media time into your daily routine, and ignore it otherwise.
- Don’t multi-task while you’re on social media. Social media isn’t bad, enjoy your time there while you’re there. It will feel like a complete experience when you’re done.
- Don’t feel guilty or shameful if social media does get out of hand. We are all human and I’m far from perfect at conquering social media, but it’s a worthy endeavor.
4. Say “No”
“All my yeses brought me to a shallow way of living – an exhausting, frantic lifestyle that actually ended up having little resemblance to that deep, brave yes I was searching for. And so if you, like me, have said to many yeses, and found that all the hopeful, exciting, wide-open intention has actually left you scraped raw and empty, the word that can change everything is no.”
– Shauna Niequist
This is a hard topic, and not one of my strongest points. I just finished Shauna Niequist’s “Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living.” She has a few short chapters that address this topic in an incredibly honest way and I wish I could just quote a whole chapter. One of her concepts that really hit home was the heart of why we struggle with saying “No.” We don’t want to disappoint people. We want to be able to be everything to everyone. Possibly, deep within ourselves, we have a need for affirmation that we can do it all. The tough realization, the root of it all, is pride.
I know, it feels like a punch in the gut. I don’t know about you, but I definitely have pride in this area. Pride that I can throw on my cape and #doallthethings. Pride that I don’t need rest or quiet. Pride that I’m not a slave to my emotional limits and can give everything that I don’t have. A daily challenge is to accept your humanity and your limits. If you’re a Christian, you have to accept your limits to acknowledge your need for God and his grace. If I can be everything for everyone and do all the things, then where is my need for Christ? We weren’t created to be constant, task-oriented machines. The Bible tells us we were created with a need to seek the Lord in quiet moments. We were created with a need to sleep, to eat and to connect with others.
Through this holiday season, know your values and say yes to the events and relationships that match. Before accepting a commitment, take time to contemplate it, talk to your spouse and even pray about it. I have a habit of giving knee-jerk yeses, and taking the time to consider what I’m saying yes to makes a big difference. Because whenever you say yes to something, you’re automatically saying no to something else.
5. Plan Thoughtful Festivities
With knowing your priorities and having more time from saying “no” to some things; you can plan family festivities that matter to your family! What is something you’ve always wanted to do over the holidays? Be fully present and enjoy your festivities this year. Document and savor them. Here are a few ideas for holiday festivities.
- Bake as a family and surprise a friend or family member with treats
- Shop for and compile an “Operation Christmas Child” shoe box
- Read Christmas books with warm beverages
- Go to a tree lighting (check with your local parks and rec department)
- Drive around looking at Christmas lights (maybe with hot cocoa)
I truly hope you have a wonderful holiday season!