Celebrating Christ-centered holidays
Have you ever felt like “the holidays” have become a blur? With the unofficial start of the season now showing up just before Halloween, it often seems way too early to see Christmas decorations. In reality, though, Halloween is just nine or ten weeks prior to Christmas, which is not so early given the amount of things we plan to do. On any other month we might also find it a struggle to juggle our calendars, but layer on the holidays and the additional duties add up quickly, particularly for women who absorb many of the holiday-related roles: Santa, chef, baker, decorator, worker, shopper, gift wrapper …
We juggle a lot this time of year and—no matter the amount of planning—it can often become the “Holidaze,” as a good friend likes to call it. How can we make our days more holy and remember the reason for the season in the midst of all that we choose to do in this timeframe? Can we find a way to celebrate Christ-centered holidays?
I recently tackled this very subject while encouraging a group of women to transform the “holi-” into “holy” and the “daze” into “days.”
First, how can we slow down and consider this journey a marathon rather than a sprint? A marathon has its benefits (I know I know, it sounds like a long way), but consider the fact that you have time to look around and enjoy what you see. The length of a marathon allows us time to be sure we are on track with our plan. It also provides time for assessing, helping us to make adjustments by speeding up or slowing down as needed. There is definitely much to do, but we don’t want to lose the meaning along the way.
If, however, we approach the season as if we are on a sprint, then our blinders will keep our sights straight ahead as we gallop full speed, probably plowing past someone who is important to us.
Second, consider some of the tasks that need to be completed. Sit down and make a list. At the top, most likely, will be family traditions. Other things to consider are who will get gifts and what those gifts will be. Consider which events are non-negotiable by examining your calendar and determining when to fit them in. Decide what to say “no” to this year, particularly if it doesn’t fit with creating more Christ-centered holiday plans.
Then, start with the vision, create an overview of plans, and finally, develop detailed action items. The vision begins with picturing the end first (thank you Stephen Covey) and perhaps even picturing specific events and how you would like them to roll.
For example, if you could experience your ideal holiday season, what would that look like? What would each event look like and how would you look in the process? Would you be rushing by people or letting others in line ahead of you or stopping to help or chat with a complete stranger in need or just be there where you are at the moment?
Also consider how to keep Christ as the center of all the activities of the holiday season. What can you do as a reminder to walk through each day with the purpose of God’s love flowing out of you, rather than the rush of wind as you run by someone? Have you ever collapsed into a chair at an event because you are so grateful to sit a while? Some days we can “take up space” rather than add to it, right?
If we plan in advance, we might be more apt to be in the moment than ever before. This reminds me of watching some of my kids’ events and noticing that many of the parents around me are watching their phones instead. They are “there” in person, but they are not “there” present with the event. We are all busy, but there are definitely times when we need to put the phone away to give our full attention to the task at hand—if for nothing else than to set that example for our children who are watching us. My older kids still say “Hey, mom, look at me” when they do something. That desire to please someone or show someone what we’ve done (social media photos?) seems to be high on most people’s list far past childhood.
Learn how to align your “to do” lists with God’s callings and purpose for you as you create the plans. Look at your list of to do’s and be open to a change in the day. By asking a few simple questions we can either eliminate events or say yes to them. Will this honor Christ or serve someone else? Do I want to do this or do I just feel obligated? What does the Holy Spirit show me about this? Does this fit with my natural or spiritual gifts, purpose, priorities or personality? When you stop to really think about some of the tasks, it becomes easier to say yes or no (even to yourself!). If it’s causing stress and strife it probably isn’t in line with where God would have you since our main mission is to love one another. Let’s face it, we just aren’t that loving when we are stressed.
So to create more joy in the season, simplify your life or add more, depending on your stage of life. Focus on the reason for the season by starting your day off in the Word, prioritizing your day and plans, and then leave room for God’s will and adjust where needed. Sometimes when we surrender, we see it all works out anyway, just in a different order than what we planned!
Enjoy some Holy Days.
Joy and Peace.
— by Jennifer Sedlock
Sedlock is an inspirational speaker, author, wife and mother of three. With a bachelor’s in business administration from UC Berkeley, and a master’s in organizational development from the University of San Francisco Jennifer held corporate and training positions before working with over 100 organizations in the areas of communication, leadership and teamwork for the past 20 years. For more topics and information find her at www.jenniferspeaks.com.