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Avoiding the Nightmare Before Christmas: How to Find Rest in the Holiday Hustle

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Christmas seems like a magical time when you’re a child—from the parties where we were allowed to stay up a little bit later, to the extra sugary sweets we consumed and the new toys we opened on Christmas morning…nothing was better than the month of December! In fact, the Christmas season was often viewed as the high point of our yearly calendar. It never seemed busy or rushed—it was just pure fun!

As we grow older the magic isn’t lost in adulthood, but the reality of all the work it takes to make that “magic” happen begins to settle in. From work parties, to friend parties, to church and family parties, it seems like a never ending time of present purchasing, baking, hosting, and socializing. While we still enjoy the holiday season, it just seems more enjoyable when we aren’t the ones baking and decorating 10 dozen holiday cookies. How do we make all this happen while still remembering and enjoying the actual reason for the season?

When I was younger, I was in a multitude of Christmas programs—and these plays had a much bigger impact on me than my parents probably initially thought they would. One song called “JOY” has stuck with me all these years. It was an acronym we sang on how to have a good, jolly attitude during Christmas.  As weird as it may seem, I believe this song, or rather the acronym that I sang as an eight year old, will help us avoid the craziness so often associated with the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I believe that if we use this JOY acronym to prioritize our holiday schedules we just might see a different side of Christmas.

J is for Jesus.

What would this Christmas look like if we were to spend each day focusing on the greatest gift of the Christmas season—the hope of Jesus? Maybe this looks like studying the story of His birth or doing a daily Advent study. Maybe you haven’t been to church in a while and the best next step for you is to get plugged into a local church. I believe the best thing we can do this Christmas season, no matter what place we find ourselves in relation to our Savior, is to take a step closer in our relationship with Him. Not only will this change our Christmas season, but if we do this daily and consistently, I believe it will change our 2016 year.

O is for others.

What would this Christmas look like if we focused on serving others? Maybe this looks like filling an Operation Christmas Box, serving at a local shelter or food pantry, or even serving at your local church. Perhaps it’s offering to help a friend host a Christmas party, or even clean up after a party! Let’s never underestimate how a small act can change someone’s day and even introduce them to the real reason why we’re celebrating.

Y is for you. 

This Christmas, let’s commit to taking a look at our relational, emotional, and mental health too. Is there something on your holiday schedule that isn’t life-giving to you? Is there something that you do every Christmas that gets you sick? Is there a relational conflict that happens when you go to one of your yearly parties that you could prevent from happening this year? When committing to Christmas parties, events, and other items, consider yourself in the matter too. Just because everything is an option, doesn’t mean that we must do everything. The best move you make this Christmas could be choosing to stay in one night a week to refresh for the next week’s event schedule.

The goal of placing JOY at the forefront of our holiday calendar is not to add a plethora of to-do’s to an already overwhelming season. Rather, it is to give us a lens through which to view and set our schedule through so that we can avoid what can easily become a Christmas nightmare.

This Christmas, let’s make the choice to intentionally master our schedules by placing all that we do within the JOY acronym. Let’s hold each other accountable to approach this holiday season with the right priorities so that we can exit with that same Christmas magic we experienced long ago as a child and the hope of Jesus Christ at the forefront of our minds!

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