Case in point: this year, I vowed that my Christmas celebration would be simpler. I'd participate in the Advent Conspiracy by spending less and giving more. I'd focus on the true meaning of Christmas the entire month long. I promised myself I would celebrate each moment, and most of all, not let the preparations for the celebrations cause me to feel anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed out.
All of that is well and good, until I realized that I thought I could accomplish all of that, without actually changing anything. I was acting as though I could get a simpler Christmas without giving anything up, until suddenly "simplify Christmas" was just one more entry on my to-do list. Instead of releasing stress, this self-made vow of mine was just adding more.
I was making things harder at the same time I was vowing to make things simpler. See what I mean? Ridiculous.
So, I'm making a mental stop-doing list. I'm intentionally letting go of certain expectations and obligations in order to make room for the things that really are important, the things that pull my focus away from celebrating Jesus.
- I'm not participating in the "decorate-your-office/cubicle" contest at work.
- I'm releasing myself from the self-made promise to give all handmade gifts this year.
- I'm simplifying the gifts that I am still making.
- I'm refusing to expect that every gift I give will be perfect, the one thing that each person never knew that they really wanted (yes, I tend to place ridiculous expectations on gifts).
Most importantly, without all of mental clutter that comes with stress, I'm remembering that each part of celebrating this holiday is really just a reminder of Jesus - we give gifts because in sending his son, God gave the first and best gift. We decorate Christmas trees and remember that it was at another tree that Jesus paid the ultimate price to buy us back. We gather with friends and family to celebrate and to encourage one another and to remember that everything good in our lives is because God came to us.