Faith Is…

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Sanctuary Sunday is a Sunday blog series focusing on matters of faith, spirituality, wisdom, and the Journey.

It’s Christmastime, Let’s Get Real

Merry Christmas

We can all use at least a little more time and a little more peace by Christmas Eve. Give yourself the gift of both by staying ahead of the game.

I’d like to share a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help maximize the peace and joy while minimizing the stress and distractions that can easily slip into the season. I hope you’ll share some of your own words of Christmas wisdom in the comment section.

Most Christmas Eve and Christmas-day stressers can be anticipated and avoided… Before this year’s festivities get any closer, think back to Christmases past and make a list of items you wished you had done differently: things that did not have to be left to the last minute; things that ended up taking longer to complete than you originally anticipated; to-do items that really required a helper or two. Set firm deadlines of at least 2-3 days out, delegate or arrange for assistance, and stick to your new schedule. It will bless you later.

Less is more, especially during Christmastime… Look at your Christmas To-Do List and pick a few things to eliminate -unless you’ve already learned the hard way and now start with the short-version list. If that’s the case, pat yourself on the back and rest in the joy of that blessed Christmas season you have realistically planned out.

Earlier is preferred to later… Give that To-Do List another look-see and determine at least a few things that may take longer than what you’ve allotted. Either move up your start time or leave it for another Christmas.

Okay, sometimes later is preferred to now… Remember Christmastime isn’t your only options for visiting with friends. New Year’s Eve and day are just around the corner, bowl games and the Super Bowl are coming up too. If your plate is just too full for Christmas, schedule (or reschedule) a little somethin’ somethin’ in January or Feburary. It will be here before you know it and folks are freer and more relaxed then. You’re sure to have a good time and just may find you want to make it an annual event.

Expect the unexpected… Move a couple things to your Maybe List and allocate some buffer time which usually requires some streamlining too. Very few things are a ‘must’ for Christmas. You know what they are, mark them accordingly and be willing to let the rest go. Hey, if it turns out you can do it all, great, but determining early-on what is most important will serve your family well. It’s a wonderful conversational teaching moment to have as a family too. Kids who are prepared to go with the flow during the Christmas season are a blessing to their parents. And, even better, children who know what is most important about CHRISTmas are a blessing to God.

Wrap gifts as you buy them… Eliminate the stress of last minute gift-wrapping into the wee hours on Christmas Eve. The first couple gifts might be fun to wrap, but when you’re running short on time, even the most happy of Santa’s helpers can get grumpy. Don’t procrastinate on this one. It’s gotten many a good elves on Santa’s Naughty List.

Remember, batteries are required… If you purchase something that requires batteries, buy the batteries at the same time whenever possible and wrap them with the gift.

Prepare a healthy make-ahead breakfast for Christmas morning… At some point the family will be ready to eat and real food will keep the day running better than if everyone chows on candy from their Christmas stockings and the cookies Santa left behind.

Clean the kitchen and tidy the Christmas tree room before bed on Christmas Eve… Waking up to a fresh home on Christmas morning after all the prep is done is a blessed gift in itself for most women.

Place garbage bags and a pair of scissors in a convenient child-safe place on Christmas Eve… Things usually get moving quickly on Christmas morning and the handy garbage bags for wrapping paper and empty boxes makes it easy to stay ahead of the inevitable trash collection needed from opening presents. There’s always at least one gift that requires a pair of scissors to open, so leave them in a handy, but safe place too.

Shower before bed on Christmas Eve… You may be completely whooped and running on Christmas cookie sugar rather than sleep, but at least you will wake up with clean hair.

Shower before bed on Christmas Eve… It’s worth mentioning twice. It will also help relax you so you can get to sleep quicker. At this point we all need rest.

Christmas traditions are wonderful, but they don’t all have to be done every year… Schedule in and plan ahead for the ones that draw your family toward Christ first and foremost; like Christmas Eve service at church or family reading of pertinent Scripture. Don’t be so busy with last minute prep that you’d consider skipping such an opportunity to recognize the great gift from God, His Son.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season, but… It’s impossible to truly celebrate CHRISTmas if you’ve set yourself up for an unfestive amount of stress and chaos as you prepare. Pray for discernment and decide what can realistically be done with the time and resources you have available.

I wish you a joyful Christmas season filled with the Peace and Hope that is only found in Christ… “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

Questions: What are your favorite organizational or time saving tips for Christmas prep? What have you learned over the years about keeping the peace in your heart and home during the Christmas season?