Last year, I got a binder. The sweetest group of church ladies you’d ever meet gave it to me I was at a mini-seminar on how to manage the holidays, while keeping the birth of our Savior in the forefront of our minds. The binder held blank calendars, lists, and recipes. It even had actual dividers —which I have not seen nor used since high school.
This. This binder will do it. This binder will control my urge to over spend and over bake and over think and over eat. With it, I will not over stress or go over budget. I will plan and I will put ALL THE THINGS in the binder and my Christmas will be joyful, relaxed, and Christ-centered.
I wrote in my ideas. My lists. My ingredients. I hoped the binder would be my Christmas savior, in it’s own way. It would help me focus. Limit. Be Discerning. Have Discipline. Yet, just like my other organizational tools, it soon got lost in the gifts and the receipts and the mess and the stress.
I arrived at church that Sunday asking myself: How do I keep my mind on Christ, when I have so much to do? How do I really teach my children the joy of Christmas, when all I’m doing is buying and baking and going and going?
My kids are out of the baby phase, so I really do cherish the opportunity to volunteer with the very littlest of church attenders. I gravitate towards the criers, since I know most of them just need to sleep. I remember those days well. Sundays were always the hardest days when my babies were babies. Nothing like a 9:30am service time to mess with the morning nap.
As I shushed a cranky baby that Sunday last year, I thought about my own tired and cranky heart — as it also longed for peace and rest and comfort. I seem to make even the simplest things complicated, especially during the holidays. No matter how hard I try, I cannot escape the self-imposed madness this season brings. Every year I feel spent, emotionally and financially, for there is never an end to the wants and the needs I see around me.
I end up wrestling with this tension through most of the holidays. Spend more/Do more. Do less/Spend less.
The baby quieted and I sat down in a rocker. Her lovely eyelashes closed and her breath quickly settled into the rhythm of sleep. She was beautiful. And peaceful. My heart calmed as I held her. For me, no binder will ever bring joy and focus to my Christmas.
This moment of quiet was my teacher.
How do I keep Christmas from getting out of control? Focus on the child.
Could you imagine if we quieted our minds and bodies, and really held the Christ child in our hearts, like a mother who holds her child in her arms? How still and focused and full we would feel? How little we would care to rush around and buy more than we could ever actually need?
When it gets loud and busy this December, join me in taking a moment of quiet grace — as if holding a child — to bring into focus true peace and joy.
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