Earlier this week I wrote about the Christmas that I got overwhelmed by preparations and tangled up in unrealistic expectations. I never wanted to have that kind of Christmas again so I decided to get intentional about making Jesus the center of my attention each December that followed. And it’s made a big difference.
The first thing I do is look for reminders of Christ everywhere I go. Each time I see a Christmas symbol, I pause and ponder its significance. For instance, when I see a Christmas tree, I stop and think about the wooden cradle and Cross that held my Savior. The evergreen also reminds me that from the cradle to the Cross, Jesus lived and died to give me the gift of everlasting Life.
Stars on houses and treetops remind me of the Star of Bethlehem that led the way to Jesus. Wreaths on doors remind me of His unending circle of grace and mercy. Christmas reds remind me of His lavish love and sacrificial blood that was shed for me.
A favorite of mine is the candy cane. The twists and turns of red and white stripes remind me of His Holiness and His promise declaring that “by His stripes we are healed.” Shaped like a shepherd’s crook, I remember and thank Him for being my Shepherd. Then I turn it upside down and see a J for Jesus, reminding me again that Christmas is all about Him.
Another secret to keeping my sanity is simplifying. This doesn’t come easy for me. Yet I can’t help but remember how that first Christmas was so very simple. So, I’m moving my heart in that direction by focusing in on what matters most to Jesus and me. I’ve started letting go of the things that stress me most.
I want peace more than anything this Christmas. Isaiah 26:12 reminds me where it comes from, “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” The truth is, Peace comes when I do less and trust Him more. Peace stays when I make room for it in my day, in my heart and in my home.
I’ve also simplified by asking my husband and kids what traditions and decorations matter most to them. Driving around looking at Christmas lights and having a Christmas tree was at the top of their list. They also want a few decorations in each room downstairs to remind them all day that it’s Christmas.
This year we’re putting out our favorite things, but not all our things. Andrew loves our Christmas village so it stayed but I did away with the white sparkly cotton that went under it. It was messy and drove me crazy. Now our little Christmas town warms our imaginations but doesn’t make me want to hide in the steeple of the miniature church. That’s progress.
- Enjoy one fun activity a week – like going to a Christmas movie or play, staying home drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies, going to a Christmas church activity, or reading a Christmas book, Christmas magazines, enjoying Christmas games and puzzles. ~Joyce Watson
- Find crafts that double as decorations. The kids have fun, and get to have pride in seeing what they did everywhere they look. Bake together and give treats as presents. ~Tricia Preston
- Take pictures of your decorations so that next year isn’t stressful trying to find a perfect place for everything. ~Julie Leary Hull
- Decorate only 4 main areas: door, table, tree, mantle. It “covers” enough to be festive but you don’t feel like you have to decorate every inch. ~Linda Elliot Moore
- Let kids help decorate and don’t stress if your house doesn’t look like Southern Living:-) ~ Kelly Casse Thomas
- Make bows with wired ribbon to put here and there, to add just a pretty touch. Pick long needle pine branches, put a bunch in a vase with a bow. Very Christmassy! ~Sandy Allen
- Ask “Will it still be Christmas if I don’t…?” (Buy one more gift, make one more batch of cookies, host a Christmas party, etc.) Christmas will come whether we have presents or not, whether our husband is here or not, whether we have 3 Christmas trees, just one or none. Only ONE thing is needed. ~Deb Galetka Heath
This week God reminded me that by simply seeking understanding from Him, and acquiring knowledge from those we love, we can fill our hearts and homes with rare and beautiful treasures made up of Christmas memories, traditions, laughter, peace and joy that will last long after the parties are over, the leftovers are eaten and the decorations are put away!
Which Christmas symbol or tradition is your favorite and why? Are there things you are doing this year to simplify and make room at the Inn of your heart and home for Christ this Christmas?