Friday, December 16, 2016

Sometimes Less is More at Christmas

"I'm not sending out Christmas cards this year," I defiantly announced to my friend Kristin. "That's okay," she replied. "Many years I've had to choose between Christmas cards and sanity. Choose sanity, and your family will thank you."

Sometimes we feel locked into holiday rituals that aren't really serving their purpose any more. Sending Christmas cards can be a chore rather than an opportunity to reconnect with seldom-seen friends and family, to remember them, pray for them, and maybe even get in closer touch. When that happens, a big BURN-OUT bulb is probably flashing over your head. Just say no until you can recover your internal equilibrium.

Holiday rituals can be more about habit and projecting the perfect family image than about the holiday itself. Advent reminds us to go deeper. We hear about St. John the Baptist in the Sunday readings. He tried to leave civilization behind, to wear animal skins and eat locusts and wild honey in the dessert, to focus on God alone. Of course, then civilization in the form of his followers ran pell-mell out into the dessert to interrupt his solitude anyway. But he wasn't afraid to shrug off the trappings of the every day.

This year, consider switching up your Christmas preparations. Saying no to old ways of doing things can mean saying yes to something else. For example, my husband jumped out of bed last Saturday and yelled, "Let's go cut our own Christmas tree!!" The kids rushed to throw on coats and scarves and pile in the car.

"Where are we going?" I asked my husband breathlessly. "We're driving east!" he said. "We'll find something!" Thanks to smartphones and GPS, we arrived at a piney paradise and began stomping through it to find the perfect tree. The big kids took turns wielding the saw, while the littles played hide and seek. Once the tree was wrestled to the top of the minivan and tied down, we drove cautiously home, hoping it wouldn't fall off the way the surfboard had over the summer. Finally, ensconced in the living room, our newly cut tree spread its fragrance throughout the house.

"You know what?" my friend Maureen mused. "If you hadn't skipped the Christmas cards this year, you probably would have stayed home slapping labels on envelopes instead of having an adventure with your family." She was absolutely right. So, this Advent and Christmas season, don't be afraid to take on less. You may be surprised at how it brings you more.


  1. I email a picture of our family with Christmas greetings to all my friends and relatives, because the cards never made it past the addressing stage!

  2. I love this and this is so true! Previously, I would have driven myself nuts with Christmas cards and things like that. This year, I'm not doing anything like that. I'm waiting for my third child this Advent / Christmas, and everything else just falls to the wayside. I love spreading the season with everyone, but I have learned that it cannot be done at the expense of the family (and my sanity).

    1. What a blessing to be pregnant during Advent and feel some of what Mary must have felt awaiting the birth of Jesus! No need to focus on anything else. :)

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