Monday, December 16, 2013

Choosing Joy at Christmas

Christmas has always, always been my favorite time of year. I have so many great memories of Christmases as a child - setting up and decorating the tree with the whole family, "twinkle tours" where our family would pack into the car and drive around looking at light displays, tobogganing and skating with friends over Christmas break, gathering with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on Boxing Day for a feast and the annual cousin gift exchange, and of course, the food.

As a child, I didn't have to worry about preparing for Christmas - it was all just done for me and I got to enjoy it. My mom did all the cooking and baking, my dad hauled up the boxes from the basement and hung the lights outside, someone else bought the gifts and wrapped them.

But as I've gotten older, Christmas has changed. It's become a lot more work, and sometimes, a lot more stress. Everyone is so busy, so rushed, so stressed - even more so than normal at Christmas time, it seems. The stores are packed and I almost dread going to the mall at this time of year. There are gifts to buy, goodies to be made, trees and lights to be set up, and parties to go to. It's hard not to get caught up in it all.

But often the busyness of Christmas leaves us with very little time to slow down and relax, to take a break and enjoy the people we love, and most importantly, to stop and think and reflect on what it all means. It seems like all the work we put into Christmas often ends up robbing us of the joy of Christmas.

I already struggle during the other 11 months of the year with resisting our society's need to be busy all the time. It seems that being busy is necessary in order to be seen as successful, important, and having a meaningful life. This is true year-round, and it only increases at Christmas.

I know that this will become more of a struggle and a balancing act for me as my daughter gets older and starts to understand what's going on. I want to do what I can to make Christmas fun and exciting and magical for her, like it was for me as a kid. But something will have to give. I refuse to allow busyness and the stress of the season to take away the joy and wonder of Christmas for me and my family. We do have a choice. We don't have to attend every party, participate in every tradition, or buy all the latest toys and gifts. We can (and will) intentionally choose only those things that bring the most joy (not only to ourselves, but to others as well), cause us to reflect and wonder about the true meaning of Christmas, and bring us together as a family. I'm not exactly sure what it will look like yet, but I want to make sure that part of our family's Christmas tradition through the years includes creating space for relaxation and rest, enjoying simple pleasures, quiet reflection, and, of course, celebration of the reason for it all.


  1. Found you on the blog hop. It is so sad how commercialized & rushed the holiday season is. Although I miss having my family nearby, I'm glad I don't have to deal with the stress of going to the mall this time of year. I guess one of the "perks" of not having family near is that we do have time to slow down & reflect.

  2. Amen my friend! Great post! I am SO wanting to do the same this year and the years to come!


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