Today I was out shopping and was shocked to find a full displays of Christmas decorations. I wasn't quite thinking it was time for Christmas lights yet.
On the other hand, my husband would tell you that I'm already talking about Christmas. I know some of you don't celebrate Christmas but here in our home we choose to enjoy this celebration of Christ's birth with special times of worship, service, and family gatherings. I've learned from experience that I like to start planning for Christmas early to eliminate (or at least lessen) the holiday stress.
A few years ago I found a holiday timetable that I adjusted for my use. To me, a little planning can maximize the joy of the season. This timetable gave a specific project for each week. Last year we were looking forward to a new baby in early January (who ended up arriving on December 31st.) That gave me motivation to not only prepare for Christmas but also catch up on other household tasks. I loved starting out the new year feeling prepared, not frazzled and behind.
Since both our families live nearby, typically we neither travel over the holidays nor do we host overnight guests. Some of you will add packing to your to-do list. Others will have extra cleaning to prepare for hospitality. Though my lists include neither, feel free to adapt to your needs.
For the next eight weeks I plan to share every Monday on preparing for Christmas. The eight weeks will end in the first week of December giving adequate time to finish any uncompleted tasks and enjoy the season before Christmas Day.
I don't want to add to your guilt and give you more to do. Don't expect photos worthy of Southern Living (because I do almost no holiday decorating). Hopefully this will give you some ideas of how to plan ahead and lessen your holiday stress.
So we'll start in with...
Prepare - A Christmas Countdown
Week One - Goal Week - October 13-18
Sit down with a pen and paper (or keyboard) and jot down the answers to these questions and any ideas they bring to mind. This is best done with your husband - and maybe your children too.
1. What would my ideal Christmas be like?
2. What activities are particularly important to our family this Christmas?
3. Is there any activities that can have a lower priority?
4. How can I use this holiday to point others to Christ?
5. How can I build in times to rest during the holiday to reduce the stress of busyness?
A note on the last question...I'm thinking of not just a nap (thought that can be good too) but times of spiritual refreshment. I know the first thing I lose when I am busy or when routines get upset is my time with the Lord. What steps can I take to make sure my spiritual health stays priority?
And last...out of curiosity I looked in a Bible Concordance to see what it has to say about preparation - and I was encouraged by what I found, so each week I'll share a Scripture that includes the word "prepare" or similiar.
"For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." Isaiah 64:4
What a promise! God says that I can't even imagine what He has prepared for those who wait on Him.
Want to join me in preparing our hearts to wait and listen to Him these next weeks? Sometimes I go from the busy summer harvest season, to busy school season, to busy holiday season, always looking forward to some future day when life will slow down, not realizing that God wants a heart that is waiting on Him. Today. Now.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you keep a quiet God-focused heart in busy seasons.
Goal Worksheet - a free printable