Do you ever feel like all your planning and preparing that goes into this Christmas season far outweighs the time you actually spend enjoying it? There’s so much to do: parties to attend, gifts to purchase, cards to mail, people to serve, meals to make, services and recitals to attend, preparations for travel, and much more.
I’ve certainly felt the pressure and if I’m not careful, my busyness and to-do list will keep me from treasuring what this season is all about: Celebrating the birth of our Savior and savoring the time with those I love most.
I certainly don’t have it figured out and it’s not always perfect in our home, but here are five ways I’m striving to make the most out of it with my husband and children.
At dinner or before bed at night, talk about Jesus. When your kids’ bellies are full or they’re about to doze off to sleep, bring up Jesus. Be prepared for funny questions and conversations you’re not exactly expecting. Kids’ minds go in a thousand directions. But there’s no better time than now to talk about his birth, what Mary and Joseph must have felt like, how Jesus was born in a manger of all places, why he came to earth, what his life looked like as he grew up being the Son of God, how his love for us took him to the cross, and more.
There’s so much marketing on our screens, advertisements in the mail, and emphasis on stuff and Santa that it can leave little room for Jesus and why we even celebrate Christmas. Make Jesus the center of attention in your home and be ready for some sweet dialogue.
Plan one significant memory a day. Failing to plan is planning to fail. We know that significant moments don’t just appear out of the sky all the time. We have to carve them out and prioritize. What do you want your spouse and children to remember most from Christmas 2018?
Baking cookies for your neighbors? Reading a Christmas devotional before bed? Grabbing hot cocoa while looking at lights? Attending a Christmas Eve service as a family? Surprising a family in need with a basket of goodies? Praying over the families in the Christmas cards you receive? Playing games by the fire and listening to Christmas music? Caroling together in your neighborhood? Meaningful memories are endless. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just simply choose one significant memory for the day and execute on it.
Unplug from phones and electronics. Let’s be honest, when we’re scrolling our phones and reading newsfeeds, we’re not fully engaged with our loved ones near us. Set the distractions aside and be fully present with your children and spouse. Give yourselves space to just “be” and don’t feel guilty about it.
With all the dings, chimes, notifications, and needs from others that consume your phone, remember that most seemingly urgent texts or requests can wait for an hour or two (or more). Love the ones you’re with well by being fully available to their needs. And if you have to set the phone to silent or hide it in a drawer, by all means, do so.
Plan an outing with a close friend. How does this relate to my spouse and children, you might ask? I’m always a better wife and mom when I’ve spent time with close friends. There’s just something about stepping aside from your familiar world and treasuring that time with friends. Often times when my husband and I are getting on each other’s nerves or nitpicking we’ll say, “Go hang out with your friends!”
See a movie, grab coffee, shop together, go outdoors… Investing in your friendships communicates, “I know it’s a busy season, but I care about you in this time too. I want to be with you in the most wonderful time of year.”
Write down your Christmas memories. One of the sweetest wedding gifts my husband and I received from a friend was a red Christmas Memories book from Pottery Barn back in 2005. It’s a journal-like hardcover book where you record 20 years’ worth of memories. You write down special gifts received, your visitors, what you want to remember most, Christmas day and Eve memories, and a page to tape your family photo.
In 2012, we finally dusted it off the shelf and started writing in it. As our kids have gotten older, they now love going through it each Christmas and reading the memories of our past. It’s amazing what you forget and are reminded of! It takes ten minutes to write in each year and is a favorite tradition. I’m sure there are other memory books you can buy or even make your own.
Before we know it, all the anticipated gifts will be unwrapped, and we’ll be taking down our lights and tree—ready to usher in 2019. When this season is all over, the memories we made will remain. Let’s make them count for today.
What are some ways you’re savoring the season? I’d love to know.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mother to four, and writer in rural Colorado. She’s the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. To read more from Samantha, visit her blog: www.samanthakrieger.com She also enjoys connecting with readers on Facebook and Instagram.