When we had my second daughter, we quit traveling at Christmas time. We're in the rather unique situation of having the only grandchildren on either side of the family. We explained that we wanted our kids to wake up in their own home on Christmas morning. Grandparents were welcome, but we were staying home.
That one decision (and I realize it's not one that everyone can make) has made a huge difference in our Christmases for the past 10 years. Not having to travel has removed a lot of stress and preparation from our holiday season.
So much of what we do at the holidays, so many of our traditions, often add stress and pull our focus away from Jesus. We get so caught up in the perfect tree, the perfect dinner, the perfect gift, or the perfectly decorated house that we forget that the reason for all of those things is a tiny baby in a manger. And when our focus is on the tradition, on having everything be perfect, we teach our kids that the tradition, the perfection, is more important than the baby who came to save us from our imperfections.
A baby in a manger. A child sent to save the world. That's what Christmas is all about. Traditions are great. Traveling to see family is fun. But if those traditions and travels are pulling us away from Jesus, then we need to reevaluate. We need to pare down what we're doing until we can see Jesus in the midst of all the tinsel, shopping, and parties.
The heart of Christmas is this: "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" (Luke 2:10-11). If the busyness of this season keeps us from remembering this, from having time to dwell on this, then we're too busy. If our Christmas season includes more stress than joy, then it's time to reevaluate what we're doing. It may be time to make some tough decisions about the things that we choose to do in December.
Christmas is a great time to help our families focus on Jesus, but we can't do that if we're so busy running around doing that we forget to spend time with God. We can't convey the wonder and the joy of Christmas if we're too busy trying to make the season perfect.
Today, I want to urge you to consider what your December looks like. Is it filled with joy over Jesus' birth or is it one stressful activity after another? Evaluate all you're doing this December and decide if each activity really needs to happen. Does it add to the joy of the season or are you just doing it because that's what you've always done? Spend some time in prayer asking God to show you which things you need to do and which things you can let go. Then follow through. You'll find more joy and peace this season when you can focus on Jesus rather than perfection.
It's the last day of our giveaway week, and today's prize is perfect for those of you who do travel at the holidays. It's a cosmetic bag from my friend Amanda at Thirty-One Gifts. I love the bags Thirty-One Gifts offers. My utility tote is one of my most-used bags. Check out what they have to offer as they make great Christmas gifts. To enter to win this cosmetic bag (the pattern on the one you win may be different), just leave a comment here or on the Everyday Truth Facebook page.