Thanksgiving is coming up, right after that we have Christmas and New Year’s. I love this time of year. Here it’s not overly cold, there is no snow, but plenty of fog. It’s always been a time of year to enjoy family and food. We form group chats, we plan who is bringing what, and decide who’s house we are going to meet at. First for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas. On the day we are all busy cooking at home. Frantically making sure we get up early enough to have food the appropriate temperature at mealtime. Trying to make sure we have time to shower and get everyone dressed (slightly festively but not too dressy cause that’s not us). We all arrive…some on time and others quite late, but all looking forward to delicious (and lately oddly healthy) foods. After several hours of talking, kids yelling, running, and playing, and lots of splurging on caloric foods, we head home, full, happy, and exhausted.

So much to do

It’s a process that’s for sure. For us introverts it can take days to recover. Often there is so much more than one event. There’s friends-giving and maybe putting together baskets for the less fortunate. There are work parties, mom play-date parties, cookie exchanges, Christmas craft events, school parties, visiting Santa, driving down Christmas Tree Lane, living nativities, and Christmas concerts, and and and

It can be overwhelming! You want to enjoy the holidays, maybe you are like me, and you love doing certain events…but hate when they come up last minute. After all we still have our routines with work and school. Dinner still needs to be prepared, houses need to get decorated…but the laundry is still piling up and dishes are still there EVERY DAY. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Pace yourself

Did you know it’s ok to not do ALL the things?! Seriously. I often feel like I have to participate in certain events with family or friends when all I really want to do is watch sappy Christmas movies cozy on the couch with my favorite blanket and a mug of peppermint hot chocolate. It’s ok to not walk around looking at Christmas lights. You can pick the events you want to participate in and you don’t have to do it all. Decorate your house when you feel like it. If baking 3 types of cookies for the cookie swap is stressing you out, don’t! Choose one and go relax with the people you love.

In recent days I’ve learned to put together gifts for those I care about through pick up services or online shopping. It eliminates the stress of going to a crowded store when I’m already exhausted. I’ve always loved “window” shopping though, so I make sure I find time for one in person shopping trip. But I don’t make it a habit.

Be Mary

Do you remember Mary and Martha (Luke 10)? Martha was running around doing all the things while Mary just sat at Jesus’ feet. Sometimes, to listen to God’s voice we just need to sit and be still. As you pray, listen in the silence, and think about the marvelous gift that God gave us at Christmas time, that is when your spirit is renewed. Make sure you take that time to emulate Mary in a world where we feel like we need to be Martha.

Missing loved ones

I have to take care of myself just a little bit more than I used to. Holidays are harder when you are missing a loved one. For many people this holiday season will be the first one without a grandparent or a parent. The pandemic has taken a toll on our family configurations. Beyond that it can be overwhelming to think of all the things your loved one used to love to do. I take comfort in thinking how happy my loved ones would be to look down and see me enjoying one of their favorite activities. I also like having them represented in my decorations. A remembrance Christmas tree ornament, their stocking still placed in a special place. They may no longer be present in our daily lives, but they are by no means forgotten. One of my favorite Scriptures is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s Word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” I find such HOPE in such a despairing loss. God has promised us that we will all be together again and that makes it easier to walk through this journey of grief.

Think of others

Holidays can be difficult for so many people for so many different reasons, it would be impossible for me to mention them all. But I think it’s important for us to look outside of the busyness of the season and think about how we can serve others. Buy a present for a charity organization who will donate it to a child who won’t have anything for Christmas. It’s not too late to create a shoebox for operation shoebox ( #operationchristmaschild Go serve a meal at a homeless shelter. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 Invite a single person who may not have any other family to spend the holidays with to your family gathering. “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13. If you know someone who is struggling financially consider “dusting” their family with a Christmas meal or gifts for their family. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:35-40 Even beyond making a difference in the lives of those who are hurting it will help ground you. Even if you don’t have much to share, you will be blessed abundantly when you share what you do have.

This holiday season remember to practice self-care, practice kindness towards yourself and others, and most of all remember to be more like Mary.