Slowing Down for Christmas (for what matters most)

Thanksgiving is over! Can you believe it? And that means Christmas is just around the corner ❤️ As we all know, it’s so, so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the festivities and miss out on what’s most important! Today, I’d like to share four things I like to do that help me slow down and savor the season.

1) Buy your Christmas tree during Black Friday weekend. Do you do this? Growing up, my friends’ families would buy their tree a week (maybe two weeks, if they were on top of things!) before Christmas. When we moved to North Carolina, it seemed like everyone I met had an annual family tradition of buying their tree on Black Friday weekend. At first, I couldn’t get over how early this seemed — after all, Thanksgiving had hardly finished! But the more I thought about it, the more I loved the concept. First of all, most people have that weekend off (or mostly off), so it’s a very practical, pre-planned time when your whole family can pick out the tree together. Also, by buying a tree a full month early, you get to enjoy it longer and your tree’s “cost per day” goes down 🙂

2) Shop, wrap and mail out gifts by December 1. This can be a challenge, and admittedly, some years my mail out date is more like December 10. But even though it takes a fair bit of planning, I find that this strategy has so many advantages. First off, it’s easier to stay in budget — I shop throughput the year so I can take advantage of sales, and because I’m not pressured by a time crunch, I can avoid buying gifts that are out of my price range. It also saves time, because I avoid the crazy holiday lines and crowded parking lots. And most importantly, when I take care of my shopping/wrapping/mailing by December 1, it takes my December focus off of buying and consumerism so I can shift my focus to more important things.

3) Limit Obligations. This will look different for every person, but for me, it involves limiting travel and the amount of work I take (a huge luxury I have as a freelance musician). I also try to limit the number of parties I go to, especially if they involve a Secret Santa or a white elephant purchase. To me, it’s an unnecessary expenditure and I usually come home with something that ends up in the trash. Instead, I love to prioritize small gatherings with close friends and family so we can laugh and have meaningful conversation over delicious food.

4) Celebrate Advent as a family. When my husband and I were first married, we started a tradition of celebrating Advent every night in December leading up to Christmas. Many of my most treasured Christmas memories are of sitting together around the soft light of the candles — eating freshly baked Christmas cookies, reading scripture, and praying to God. When we have a daily celebration of Advent, I never feel as though the season has “rushed by” — I feel as though I can really relish and experience the Christmas season. And best of all, celebrating Advent turns the month of December into a month of worshipping the Living God. Decorations and gift giving and travel and holiday parties are wonderful, but they can also distract. When these distractions are minimized, I find that I actually have the brain space to worship God. I have the brain space to try to take in the fact that He sent Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, to this earth in the form of a tiny but divine human baby so He could ultimately die and rise again to save me from my sins.

Why do I like to slow down for Christmas? Because I don’t want to miss out. I want to stop and worship.

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