It is 9:15am on December 28th. Baby is napping. My Mom is in the shower. And I am sipping a delicious mimosa to follow up a warm, homemade breakfast enjoying some lovely, coveted alone time. Naturally, I’ve been thinking about the Holidays. I cannot believe how quickly the Christmas season came this year and how, often, they seem to take me by surprise and are over before I know it. You know, when you suddenly realize that it is December twenty whatever and you’re packing the car for your travel and feel like you don’t know what hit you and how you got here so quickly. Wasn’t it just Thanksgiving? The other Holiday that snuck up on me and left me with a food hangover just when I realized that it was actually here? I don’t know if I have ever felt entirely prepared for the holiday season. Maybe I never will. But in hopes for the contrary, I thought I would make a little list of advice to myself for future holiday seasons :):
- Don’t say that you’re going to do “better” this year, eating healthy, rejecting dessert, and eating smaller portions. Be honest with yourself, that is just not going to happen. Instead, embrace it! Try to make better choices before and after the holidays but during them, by all means, embrace all of the caloric beauty! Look at it as a season of sugar and delicacies, feasts and fellowship! Things that many people around the world never have the chance to enjoy and would salivate over the mere thought of. Family and friends have made these foods for you out of love and the delight of watching you enjoy them, so do so gratefully. Otherwise, you’re going to keep feeling like a failure ever year, beating yourself up and loathing every generous offer of goodies that you know will weaken your self control. Just relax, live a little, and eat the damn red velvet cake.
- That being said, throw your fat jeans in the suit case! Yes you might be feeling good in those skinnies you can finally fit into weeks beforehand and you want the world to know it, but it’s only going to add to the guilt as they become tighter throughout the week. Instead pack the ones with a little extra space (or heck, throw in some maternity jeans with those elastic waist bands), and you’ll feel fine. You can take the skinnies back out again in a couple of weeks. They’re just not made for such a time as this ;-).
- Really be present with your family. Leave lap tops and ipads unplugged and phones upstairs and let yourself journey to the “good ‘ol days” when social media didn’t exist and the community you touch base with is the community you are sitting next to at meals, opening presents with and sleeping beside. Trust me, this will make your time so much richer, your days will disappear less quickly, and those around you will feel more loved.
- Try to get in the habit each day of thinking for the loved ones around you, not for yourself. Has your mother-in-law been working tirelessly on the meals and could use a break? Offer to take over some of the cooking for her, or at least pitch in to make it a faster process. Offer to do the dishes. Have you noticed a family member is a little quieter than usual? Make the effort to talk to them, initiate time with them, and let them know you value them. Ask if you can run errands for anyone and be considerate of everyone’s space. Clean up the baby toys when Riles is down for naps or in bed for the night, so the home can be restful for everyone else. Remember that Jesus, though He is God, came to earth to serve and not be served (Phil. 2). This is the life that, as His own, you have the privilege to live. Ironically, it will make your holidays much more enjoyable than if you are just thinking about how to serve yourself and it will really bless those around you.
- Realize how blessed you are to have family around you. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve enjoyed time with family so much more. Not everyone is so fortunate to still have their parents, siblings, spouses, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandparents still with them. And even if they do, not everyone has relationships with them still. Be humbled and grateful for this, and soak up every minute. Be gracious to them, no one is perfect. Including you, and you probably have quirks and habits that they have to give much grace to as well ;-).
- Do all of your Christmas shopping in November. Do as much of it as you can on Cyber Monday. Free shipping, low prices, and a much more restful December!
- Take pictures of your travels and family time! That was a big, fat fail this year. I didn’t get any pictures!
- Finally, seek and spend time with Jesus. The whole reason for the Christmas and Easter holidays are to celebrate Him and yet, He always ends up being the One that gets the least of my attention. On my drive from Richmond to Roxboro yesterday, as I prayed for my husband in Saint Louis, I realized that it was the first time I had prayed all week. The week that is a celebration of the birth of our Savior! “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, til he appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” Let these words sink deep into your soul and mediate on their truth. Let every interaction with family, every meal made, every tradition be penetrated by gratitude and awe of the gospel. Make time to read scripture and pray, even if it means you just sneak away for bed 20 minutes earlier than normal. Time with the Lord will not be a detriment to your family, but a blessing to all of your relationships. Not to mention, He is the most important relationship of all the others in your life! And is worth the cost of all others. Let your actions and your thoughts reflect that.
What is some advice that you would give your future self about the holidays?
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!