A Stress-Less Christmas

This December our family will not only celebrate Christmas, but also the marriage of one of our daughters. Yep, I hear your groans—two big events that require a lot of planning and execution by mom! And planning is not my strong suit. However, I’ve come up with a system that seems to be working (ie—getting things done with very little stress. I will share this plan once I’ve worked it to completion.)

Part of my plan is to prioritize what is important for each of these events. I ask myself and my family:

* What’s important to the whole family for a special Christmas season?

* What’s important for Kelsey and Caleb in celebrating their marriage?

* For both events, at the end of the day what will we remember?

* What will we miss if it’s not there?

* What is meaningful to us?

These items (plus the necessary logistics) make my priority to-do list. Everything else does not.

My plan is working well. I have already gotten quite a bit done. My stress level is much lower. Everything is coming along very well. I’m even learning to love shopping on the internet!

The success of my plan is giving me the gift of breathing room. I no longer feel as if every morning I jump on a treadmill that speeds up with every passing minute. But with this gift comes the temptation to add more to my to-do list and gift list. I’m tempted to believe I’m being lazy to not cram as much as I can into one day. I can do more so I should-right?

No way! God gifted me with a plan. I pray and work it. He brings order and peace to my day and events. To heap more on my lists would be like saying to God, “No thanks. I appreciate all You’ve done, but I can take it from here. My way is better than Yours.”

I’ve decided to stick with God’s plan. It feels pretty good. And besides, I don’t have a clue what’s coming my way that I have no inkling about. I may need the margin of being done early.

It’s not too late for you! You can enjoy a peaceful, stress-less Christmas season.

1. Prioritize—What’s important to you and your family? What traditions/activities/gifts? Maybe start with what’s important to you. Moms often feel everything is important. But truly consider what makes the holiday for you. Volunteering for a ministry or event may be one of these priorities so put it on your list.

2. Look back over the list. Cross of anything you added to meet others’ expectations for you. I’m not talking about showing honor and love to others.  However, when others’ insist you show them love and honor their way and nothing else will do, that’s wrong. You are no longer living as the person God made you to be, but trying to squeeze into someone else’s box for you.

3. Say goodbye to everything not on the list. Give it to God and promise Him you won’t pick it back up. If it didn’t make the cut, it’s not that important.

4. Make each day about the specific priorities. Don’t add anything else. No extra gifts, cookie baking, or volunteering from guilt.

5. Prayerfully go through each day seeking God’s strength and guidance, especially when you get stuck.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But simple is not always easy. We make life complicated. Seek God’s plan for you and your family. It will be the one that fits—no returns necessary (Psalm 37:3-5; Proverbs 3:5-7).

Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.

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