If you struggle with balance on a regular day, the holiday season — with all its obligations and expectations — can send you into complete and utter chaos. What is aggressively marketed as The Most Wonderful Time of the Year feels more like stress and debt and five pounds of fat around your midsection.
Ask me how I know this.
A few weeks ago, I asked you, “What is your biggest struggle with balance over the holidays?” Apparently, I’m not the only one who struggles with holiday balance. Your answers ran the full gamut, from finances to family dynamics, from busyness to boundaries. I’m sorry/not sorry you have so many balance issues this time of year. Sorry, because I love you and hate to see you struggle. Not sorry, because I’m happy I’m not alone.
Turns out, the holidays tend to reveal whatever balance issues we’ve had all year long — only they’re bigger and sparklier and involve baked goods.
Balance is a spiritual condition (peace) whereby we know our priorities (what we should do) and live our priorities (how we should do it) through freedom in Christ (using our God-given gifts and talents, while also understanding and respecting our limitations). ~Finding Your Balance~
I, for one, would love to get to January, reflect back, and think, “That was a beautiful and meaningful holiday season.” But I know in order for that to happen, I must be very intentional about it. For me, Holiday Balance won’t happen accidentally.
So, today, I’m starting a series that will run weekly-ish through New Year’s Day. This is for all of us who need some help getting a grip, so we can move through the next six weeks with our peace and priorities firmly in place.
First Things First
We will never achieve balance (peace to live out our priorities) if we try to do everything. So, the first thing we must do is decide what we WON’T do. Balance is about saying no to good things so we can say yes to better things. It’s looking at everything on the plate and scraping half of it into the garbage (or maybe putting it into a tupperware container for later).
Balance requires prayerful neglect.
Think about the traditions you want to preserve and the events or activities that mean the most to you and your family, and guard those with your life. Everything else is negotiable.
As families grow and change, so will your cherished traditions. Don’t become so rigid that you can’t let things go from year to year. This isn’t life or death — it’s Thanksgiving and Christmas. Perspective is important while we make our plans.
For me, I have about four family traditions I am guarding this year. They are simple things we do almost every year that all my kids talk about and look forward to:
- Serving the homeless on Thanksgiving morning.
- Decorating our home for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, while I make homemade soup, and we bust out the Christmas music.
- Christmas Eve pasta shells (I know…weird Christmas Eve food. I started this as a newlywed because it was one of about three dinners I knew how to cook), and then driving around to look at Christmas lights.
- Traveling to our hometown later that week to celebrate with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.
We do lots of other things, too. But none of them are sacred, and none of them are too important to toss off the agenda from one year to the next.
With those few activities firmly in place, I consider everything else based on its life-giving/life-sucking value. If it’s life-sucking, it goes directly on The Holiday To-Don’t List. If it’s life-giving, or is super-meaningful to my husband or children, I try to fit it in somewhere.