Do you break out in hives just thinking about the craziness and chaos that comes with Christmas? It doesn’t have to be that way. Inspirational authors Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin, and Tricia Goyer share about Christmas’ past in their new novella collection Where Treetops Glisten. Their three stories “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” will take you back to war-time 1942, 1943, and 1944. The authors have also teamed up to give tips on simplifying Christmas this year! Join us December 1-6 on Not Quite Amish Living for the Simplifying Christmas series.
12 Tips to Turn Chaos to Wonder
by Sarah Sundin
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! We long to make Christmas a time of joy and wonder for our family and friends, but in the process we often find ourselves depressed, stressed, irritable, and in debt.
Over the years, I’ve mourned how December has turned from my most anticipated month to my most dreaded. Last year, two things made me re-evaluate. First, I wrote my World War II Christmas novella in Where Treetops Glisten. Christmas was simpler then. Fewer gifts, fewer decorations, simpler food—less of everything. Was Christmas less meaningful then? Absolutely not.
Then on December 14, our youngest son received a concussion in a karate tournament and needed surgery … which was performed on January 2. Those two weeks were spent nursing my son and taking him to numerous appointments. Out of necessity, Christmas had to be simplified. As a family we agreed on what absolutely had to be done and what we could live without. And you know what? It was a really nice Christmas.
So how can we rein things in and turn Christmas from chaos to wonder?
1) Focus on Jesus
In your planning, make sure Jesus gets center stage. Give priority to your personal time with the Lord so you can find the peace you crave. Read the Christmas story as a family, attend a Christmas pageant or choir performance, sing Christmas carols, or put out a nativity set. Remember why we’re celebrating in the first place.
Also make room in your schedule for charitable work. When you give to others in need, your to-do list suddenly seems petty. And doing charitable projects with kids will help them turn their focus from their gimme lists to giving to others. That alone can simplify your Christmas!
Take a deep breath, step back from the to-do list, and give it a good hard look. Why do you do each item on that list? Does it bring you joy and peace and wonder? Does it bring others joy and peace and wonder? Are you doing it due to family pressure? Peer pressure? To impress others? Guilt? Even the things we love—are we overdoing them or getting obsessed?
3) Go with Your Strengths
Do you love baking or decorating or handcrafting your own gifts? Great! Do those things and do them well! Revel in the joy you bring to others.
4) Trim Your To-Do List
After your evaluation, did you realize you do things for the wrong reasons? Look at the things you don’t like, those that bring stress, debt, pressure. Either trim them back or eliminate them. Likewise, if you love doing something, but it puts you in debt or stresses out your family, think about scaling back.
5) Family Chat
Have an honest discussion with your family. Explain which things you have issues with, and listen to their feedback. You might be surprised what matters to them and what doesn’t. Often the things we stress about aren’t that meaningful to them.
There is no law saying women need to do 100% of the work at Christmas. Enlist your family members and delegate. This might mean releasing control and battling your own perfectionism, but you’ll be less stressed and you’ll give your children a sense of accomplishment and belonging. Preschoolers can set out non-breakable decorations and help in the kitchen. Elementary schoolers can stuff envelopes and help bake and wrap presents. And teenagers can take on entire tasks as their own. Even husbands can help—I speak from experience!
Read the rest of the post and download the Turning Chaos to Wonder Worksheet over at NotQuiteAmishLiving.com!