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I love Christmas… most of the season.  What I don’t like is all of the over planning and stress that leave me just glad that it is over on Christmas day.

I’m always looking for ways to simplify and make it just as special without letting it all get away from me and turning me into the Grinch.

Every year I try and every year there is some part of the season that I just end up grumpy and ready for it to all be over with.

Well, this year I want it to be better.  I’ve decided that I need to simplify in a way that makes sense to me.  I want to keep everything that makes Christmas special, but get rid of the excess.  In the past I’ve tried using Christmas planners, and lists, and I’m always so excited in the beginning, but near the end, I’m discouraged because of all the things that I wanted to do that didn’t get done.  Then I feel like a failure for what didn’t get done, instead of grateful for what we did get to do.

I decided that this year, I’m going to pare it down, and try to keep only the things that are important to me.  As I have analyzed all of the parts of Christmas and the expectations, I have come to one big conclusion.  The only really important part of Christmas… sharing love and testimony of the Savior with others.

That’s it.  That’s all there is too it.

Christmas is the spirit of giving

Of course there are a few details in how this comes about.  Because I have decided that people are the most important part of Christmas, I have divided my plan into 4 different groups of people.  Family… Friends that live nearby… Loved ones that live far away… People I don’t know, who need some Christmas cheer.

Family

Spending time with family is probably the very best part of Christmas.  I want my kids around me.  I want to see them laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  I remember wonderful times that we traveled to Grandma’s house for Christmas when I was little, and when my kids got to go to their grandparents’ homes for Christmas. I remember sledding and hot chocolate, and games and big dinners with all the traditional foods.  Every Christmas may not have all of these things, but time spent enjoying each other as members of a family are really the very most anticipated parts of the Christmas season.

Friends and neighbors that are nearby

Another important set of people to remember during Christmas time is our co-workers, friends, & neighbors. I love going to the many parties and gatherings at work and church and in the neighborhood. By taking the time to be with others, it helps recharge my batteries, and builds relationships with people I feel are a positive influence in my life.   I like taking gifts or baked goods to a few close friends and neighbors. This is the perfect time to tell the people who are in my daily life, that they are important to me and that I care about our friendship.

Distant loved ones

There will always be someone who I care about or have been thinking of who I won’t be able to see at Christmas. This is why Christmas cards are so much fun.  This year I put up a special holder just for Christmas cards that people give to me, so they will be a part of the decoration.  Unfortunately, I don’t always get my Christmas cards mailed out, but I still love the tradition.  Another way to reach out at Christmas is through social media.  When I’m feeling down, I can look at my Facebook or Pinterest pages and someone I am following will leave some type of inspiration for Christmas time that will help bring the Christmas spirit back to my day.  It does seem a little like spying on someone else’s Christmas, but if I leave a comment, it becomes interactive and I’ve made that connection during the Christmas season.  I also love when people leave pictures of the fun things they are doing at Christmas.  Is there anything better than seeing those cute little kids (and sometimes the big ones) really eating up the Christmas spirit, and reminding us that there is such joy to be had in the world?

God’s other children He wants us to be aware of.

There are so many opportunities for giving to others that are in need during Christmas.  I could give money, time, presents, or even just a smile and friendly hello.  I saw a small group of people gathered around tables at the Starbucks inside Target, with juice boxes, granola bars and various other items all spread out on the tables with Christmas ribbons and packaging. I could only imagine where these items were going. As they were dividing them up into individual containers, these people were so happy and really seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves.  This year I took the easy way out, and just donated money to our church for a special project that they are working on for Christmas.  In years past, we made little goodie bags to keep in our car to hand out to homeless people who we pass on the street.  Another way to spread cheer to others is to be aware of them, and see if someone needs help with groceries, or shoveling the snow, or simply waiting a few extra seconds and holding a door for someone.  A little extra patience this time of year, could go a long way in helping another of Gods children from becoming burned out at this time of year.

There are a million little things that can be done at Christmas to make the season special, but that doesn’t mean that we have to do them all.

The reason we celebrate Christmas is to recognize the one most important gift we could ever have… Jesus Christ. God loved us enough to send His only son down to us.  To teach us, and love us, and to eventually die for us.  He gives us the gift of being able to repent and become all that He wants us to be… even all that we possibly can be. And ultimately that gift of being able to return to Him.  In return, He wants us to watch out for and love each other, and help His other children to find their way back to Him also.

I think if we can remember this important part of Christmas, loving others, then all of the other hustle and bustle can just fall into place, or fall away as needed.

Here’s to hoping this Christmas will be “simply” wonderful.

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