Do you ever find yourself scrambling over the holidays only to realize that instead of feeling like you were celebrating, you were completing a giant task list? In the last few years, I have found the holidays to be increasingly stressful. I find myself wanting to make things like apple cider, fruit-filled pies (to be topped with whipped cream, of course), and holiday cookies shaped and decorated for fall or Christmas. Pinterest is full of homemade holiday gift ideas and decorations, and if that doesn’t work out, it’s time to hit the crowds for some shopping. Then, there’s the task of cooking a feast that includes everyone’s favorite holiday dish. And let’s not forget that the house must be sparkling clean for our guests (and don’t forget to invite them all).
Wait, why am I doing all of this? I was recently thinking about my favorite holiday and why I look forward to it. I love Christmas, but I realized that my first thought about why Christmas is my favorite is not always because of Christ’s birth. My first thought is often about what we do to celebrate. My focus has become the celebration itself rather than the reason for the celebration. When my focus during the holidays is on parties and family get-togethers, it’s no wonder that I stress out so much over making them fun. If I don’t do everything for the gifts and parties just right, the celebration is ruined. I get caught up in the responsibilities that are often self-assigned, and I forget that the purpose of holidays is to remember rather than to create. The purpose of my tasks should not be to make sure that I don’t let anyone or myself down. Instead of being about me and what I can do, the holidays are about being grateful for what has been done for me.
I write this, but I still know my inclination to focus on checking items off of the list which doesn’t always bring out the best in me. I have seen several posts like this one from Crystal Twadell about writing down things for which we are grateful which may help us remember why we are celebrating. Or maybe you find it helpful to set out little reminders such as photos or souvenirs to help you remember what God has done for you. This time is a great reminder to stop and be thankful. While we’re rushing around to enjoy our holiday celebrations, let’s not forget to pause to think about why we are celebrating. When our focus is on Jesus and the things for which we can be grateful, we may find that the stress of the holidays is replaced with thankfulness.