Do you find that the closer Christmas gets, the less peaceful your life and thoughts become? As you hurriedly stuff your thoughts with a family picture and hope your sanity will make it before the twenty-fifth, and as you rack your brain for gift ideas, while trying to make sure you don’t burn that batch of cookies, you may feel like a peace-filled holiday is simply not possible.
Determine To Have a “Mary Christmas”
No, I didn’t misspell “Merry”: I’m talking about Mary, the sister of Martha, here. In Luke 10, we see Jesus respond to a sibling squabble between the two. His response is one I hear in my head all too often: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (vv. 41, 42).
What was the gem that Mary had discovered, leading to a peaceful celebration with the Lord? She spent time at His feet.
Often, despite our insistence that “Jesus Is the Reason for the Season,” we fail to take time to focus on and wonder at the miracle of the Incarnation, no less fellowship with our Risen Lord. I think we can extend Mary’s example to our horizontal relationships, as well: Quality time with those we love is more valuable than attempting to create magazine-worthy decorations or prize-winning sweet treats.
Prioritize and Limit Your Efforts
Determination is great, but putting your intentions into practice can be difficult. Just like many people set a budget for holiday spending, developing a time budget can be helpful, as can remembering that you simply cannot do it all.
When it comes to gift-making, decorating, baking, and other holiday activities, it can be helpful to start with a list of things you will not be doing this Christmas, which can give you the freedom you need to do the things that you do have time (or can make time!) to do.
Focus Some Energy on Relationship-Building
While limiting the frivolous (but fun!) Martha-esque aspects of your holiday celebrations is necessary, you need to make a point to plan for the Mary parts, as well. Printing out Jesse Tree ornaments or other Advent guides (note: link loads slowly) can be a start.
As far as your family time goes, sometimes we spend so much time preparing the actual meal that we fail to set the scene for positive conversation. (If you overheard some of the resurfaced family failings and arguments I’ve heard at holiday meals, you’d know why I’m so sold on this idea!) Conversation cards or a new tablecloth tradition can help you remember good times and develop new positive memories and deeper relationships.