With stores filling aisles with holiday goodies the beginning of July the holiday season just seems to sweep us off our feet, unexpected. Unaware.
We spend extra moments considering the perfect gifts. We carefully coordinate our wrapping paper. Or we toss it in a gift bag, promising to care more about the art of wrapping next year. We plan our menus and pencil in our schedules. Little activities for the children to do each day to count down to Christmas. Pour over recipes for the perfect Christmas goodies to fill the house with the smells of Christmas. Maybe even some to give out to the sweet neighbors that surround our homes. Or the not so sweet ones that need a little extra loving at a time of year when it is easier to love the cranky.
There is so much good about the Christmas season. There are bells to ring to draw attention to a bucket waiting to be weighted down with coins. There are carols to be sung to the elderly and shut-ins. There are ugly Christmas sweater parties to attend and Sunday School Christmas plays to attend and watch our little heart beats with a mixture of pride and embarrassment.
We are swept up in this – this busy-ness that sweeps us up and holds us in its grasp, until the holidays have passed and we look back with hearts full and memories rich and wonder how it passed by so quickly. Where did it go? What was the purpose?
What was the purpose? No. On this side of the holiday, the question can be a proactive what is the purpose? The purpose – that we are intentionally choosing to live out through the simple actions of our every day – what is that?
There is so much good that we can choose; but good doesn’t mean it is right. Good doesn’t mean we need to choose it. There is good – but then there is better and best. That which could appear good, without any intention of it being anything but that, can turn bad. Too much good can rob us of the enjoyment of peace and rest and reflection.
Certainly our purpose is not to do every good opportunity that arises and leave us in the quiet moments of our home, away from watchful eyes, exhausted, burnt out and snapping at our children.
Our purpose isn’t to buy that perfect gift for each dear loved one, and come January face a credit card bill we aren’t quite able to handle.
Our purpose isn’t to appear to be the perfect hostess, with perfectly coordinated everything, and yet become frazzled, or even undone, should our own precious little ones need us.
Our purpose this holiday season will play out in the quiet moments of our homes, in the moments when little eyes watch to see if that what we do matches with that which we speak. Those little ones, they hear us with their eyes. And they don’t miss anything.
If I tell them with my words that; “This holiday season is a celebration and remembrance of the Lord Jesus coming to earth for us!” And yet with my actions I wear myself, and my family, to a state of exhaustion doing all the good things and, in the privacy of my home become the Nightmare-Before-Christmas – what will my children walk away having really heard?
As Christ followers our purpose is to honor and glorify Him in all we do, and this we can do with a little bit of thought and planning for our holiday season.
How we play this out in the rhythm of our homes will be as unique as each of us – the beauty of the body of Christ. Some have more money to spend, others more time. Some were created to host parties, and others to just open the doors and let people into their crazy.
Our purpose is united – to honor Him – but our beings are unique, and the playing out of this is unique and the obligations and invitations and expectations … those things need to be examined where they fall – the good, the better, or the best for this particular season.I love the honesty in this quote from Sally Clarkson;
My aspirations and what I can idealize often times far exceeds my ability to live up to them in reality. Yet it is in being able to visualize the dreams of my heart and beauty of God’s design that I have found a standard of maturity to move toward.
Visualize the dreams of my heart and beauty of God’s design – purposing. Finding a goal to move towards rather than being swept off our feet unexpectedly in the midst of all the good.
I have through the years considered four questions at the brink of each new season – I have a printable available here that I use – and I find this to be particularly helpful during the busyness of the Christmas season; to be purposing ahead through the holidays what I want for our family rather than getting lost in the midst of the hectic. We cannot do everything. Our season will not look like everyone else’s. And these four questions really help me to keep on track.
Four things we can consider this season to help keep our purpose and our sanity over the next few weeks ::
1. Describe my ideal Christmas season. What does this look like for me and my family?
2. List the challenges I can think of that might stand in the way of the ideal and ways to deal with those challenges.
3. List what activities and traditions are essential to my family this holiday.
4. Consider, how can I show hospitality and Christ’s love to others? Make a list of ideas and how to implement the ideas.
Defining and planning on how our purpose will uniquely play out in our homes will create a solid framework for living intentionally and letting the good opportunities pass us by without guilt.
In Christmas seasons past I have enjoyed reading from Come Thou Long Expected Jesus throughout the Christmas season. This is a favorite quote from the book; “…and let me beseech you to strive to love, fear, honor and obey Him, more then ever you have done yet; let not the devil engross your time, and that dear Savior who came into the world on your accounts have so little. O be not so ungrateful to Him who has been so kind to you!” – George Whitefield