Here we are in the throes of the Christmas season.
For many of us, December brings ramped up schedules, lots of holiday parties, an overload of sugar, and some brand new toys to play with. The month can easily become a frenzy of activity and stuff.
But it doesn’t really need to be that way. We can slow down to enjoy the Advent season. We can be present to the people around us, and be present to God’s deeper story behind all the tinsel and flashy lights.
This week, in a conversation with my spiritual director, I exclaimed, “I made a conscious decision to NOT do a big gingerbread house project with my kids!” She laughed, completely understanding that this was a thing to celebrate.
In a moment when I could have given in to the pressure to be Super Mom who does Pinterest-worthy crafts, I was able to choose to be more present to my kids. I had the self-awareness that doing a huge, messy baking endeavor (while possibly fun) would have probably resulted in more stress than it was worth.
So that’s how I’m doing the holidays this month, friends. Simple and slower. This is a very intentional choice, which I believe will lead to greater levels of joy. For those who want to join me in the spirit of a Simple, Slow & Sacred Christmas, here are a few essential disciplines that I am practicing:
My 8 Rules for a Simple, Slow & Sacred Christmas
1. Do less. Focus on what is really important, and let go of the other stuff. Make space for quiet and rest.
2. Eat slowly. Instead of eating on-the-go, or cramming down food at parties, eat mindfully. Enjoy and appreciate food. Savor the good stuff.
3. Be present. Rather than thinking about something that you need to do, or something that is going to happen, stay focused on the present moment. Be present to the people, actions, and environment around you.
4. Say no. You do not need to attend every event or participate in every activity. Enjoy the things you want to say yes to, and be free to say no to the extras. I am intentionally saying no to shopping malls, long to-do lists, Pinterest, and activities that feel obligatory.
5. Create sacred places or times of reflection. I’ve been reading through a Advent devotional called Embrace the Coming Light by my friend Eddy Ekmekji. We have an Advent candle that we light at dinnertime, and our family has been talking together about what each candle symbolizes. Build in times to reflect on God’s presence and activity throughout the month.
6. Unplug. When we’re constantly connected to email and internet, there are many interruptions and demands. Disconnect from TV, internet, and smart phones for a while. Have a daily media fast.
7. Focus on people. Attention can be drawn elsewhere, even when there are people right there in front of you. Connect with friends and family, and actually engage with them.
8. Single-task. Do one thing at a time. Enjoy it. Breathe.