Stories

Simplify Christmas

By: Valerie Martin
December, 2018

On a gray, drizzly day a number of years ago in early December, I went to a funeral. A Hollywood director could not have planned it better.

A dear friend of mine – one I’ve known since elementary school – lost her mother, after losing her father just six months earlier. She is an only child with few extended family members and lives in Texas while her parents stayed in Ohio.

I remember thinking about how much she had lost that year and the pain Christmas was going to bring to her. This highly-anticipated holiday with its hopes of happiness and perfection is painful for many. Every year we talk about how we place too much importance on the trimmings and the perfect gifts. Yet, we still get caught up in it all.

Some of us dread the family conflicts and dysfunction. Ignoring or icing over it all. To me, this is the exhausting part of the holiday – trying to make a mud cake look like a yummy dessert.

Wish I had all the answers to the complications of Christmas; I don’t. But here is what I’m trying… Besides consciously simplifying gift giving and decorating, I’ve decided that humor is a must!

Next on my list is lowering expectations. In other words: to enjoy the actual moment for what it is, and if that doesn’t happen – find something funny in it. (There is always something funny!)

Most importantly, focus daily on God’s gift of Jesus.

There is a simplified Christmas pre-requirement. I so often forget about the most important ingredient of this holiday. If I am to be love, show love, I must know love – be in prayer and the Word – spend time with God.

I must let God love on me. And don’t you know it, when I make time for God, I fret less. I don’t feel the need to scheme about family interactions, and I am in better humor. In other words, I can better accept life as it is in the moment.

My friend also modeled one more thing we can do. She and her husband decided to spend Christmas on a beach with toes in warm water. In other words, she didn’t hold “tradition” up as a sacred ritual. Sometimes what we need is to let our Lord show us each how He would have us spend our time during this season. I believe that it is in this that we find the peace and simplicity we all want at Christmas.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13