Christmas season as described in a famous holiday tune: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . It’s the hap-happiest season of all.”
Is this your truth? It has not been for me. However, I am on a continuous path of intentionally changing that.
Here is my truth:
About the second week of November, I usually start to get overwhelmed and grumpy, because I know the holiday season is quickly approaching. My life begins to feel like a fast-paced locomotive on an inevitable destructive path--destined to crush my spirit and derail my joy.
To some people, there is a love for the hustle and bustle of this time of year. They thrive--while I try to survive. I’m not saying there is a right or wrong way to go about chugging along, but I know what holds true for me personally.
There’s just too much to do in too little time. Even if it does all get done . . . what’s the cost? I have reached a point in my life where I refuse to exchange my free ticket of peace with holiday bargains and decorative cheer.
I used to pull out at least twelve bins of Christmas decorations and have it all unpacked before the end of Thanksgiving weekend. Not anymore. I have reduced my decorations to at least half (I hope to cut back even more) and they will be put out when I get to them--even if it is several days after Cyber-Monday.
I used to take the kids to get their annual professional Christmas picture. Then I downloaded it onto a website where I would create an endearing Christmas card. This needed to be ordered, paid for, shipped to me, opened up, stuffed into envelopes, stamped, addressed, and mailed out to family and friends. Not anymore. And I don’t feel guilty about this card cut-back either. (I still try to send pictures or correspondence through the mail, I just aim to do this in a different season.)
I used to bake heaps of holiday cookies and spend numerous hours preparing sugary treats to give to co-workers and friends. Not anymore. I still bake some, but this is done lightly with my kids for fun. No longer do I take on the pressure of being a Christmas sugar factory that needs to remain on a tight schedule to meet a cookie quota.
I used to get trapped in the crazy stress of Christmas presents and exchange with friends, extended family, and neighbors. I am not the hap-happiest-shopper throughout the other eleven months on the calendar. So when heightened consumerism takes place--forcefully crammed into the busiest season of the year, I felt like I was hauling a heart full of coal. Not anymore.
I’ve learned where to turn at Jesus Junction. A junction is a location where traffic going in diverse directions can continue to travel on their path ahead or take a turn and change directions to an alternate route.
“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.” (Psalm 119:35 NIV)
As I have come to the crossroads of what matters most at Christmas, I am no longer headed nonstop downhill in the month of December. I have hit the brakes and intentionally merged onto a different track. In order to do this, I have had to let loose of a lot of baggage cars. (The pressure and weight of going overboard with decorating, baking, buying, etc.)
In this detachment process, I know that I will most likely unintentionally offend or disappoint some people. As sad as this can be, I would rather let down people than miss the reason for the season.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14 NIV)
Because as I let go of holiday to-do lists and expectations, I have more time to pull into the restful station of peace with my Savior. No longer am I a disgruntled passenger headed on a fast-track to frustration, but rather I am free to be a conduit for Christ.
All aboard!!! If you too feel as though you get overwhelmed on a runaway steam engine in the month of December, this is your call to switch tracks and join the peace train. What might you need to let go of and leave behind this season in order to enjoy this free ride?