Friday, December 18, 2009

Five Last Minute Christmas Tips

If you received the letters Y, R, M, E, C and another R in the game of Scrabble, you would have the beginning of “Merry Christmas.” We are one week ahead of December 25, so here are five practical hints for spelling out a meaningful and less-hectic-holiday.

First, take a few hours and clear your house of clutter. Do some light cleaning, and then tell yourself that is enough. The new and improved “Good Housekeeping Magazine” often uses the phrase “good enough housekeeping.” Let that become your motto. No more rushing around to tidy-up to perfection. Enjoy your family. Enjoy the season.

Plan and prepare easy meals this next week. Buy ingredients early to avoid last minute shoppers in crowded stores. The stores are playing holiday carols and they massage my conscience making me catch grandiose ideas and plan more batches of fudge or fancier table settings. Or while in the household products’ aisle, I at least reach for the Pine-Sol to add more piney scent in my home. For a calmer week, plan easy meals and make purchases early.

Third, list the holiday traditions you practice and query your family about them when you gather for the holiday. Poll them to find out which traditions mean a lot to them. You may be surprised to find that some of your customs get shoulder shrugs. Consider dropping those next year.

Folk tend to forget that during the month of December, regular life with all its commitments continues and then we add the extra tinsel and pageantry. Give yourself permission to let go of a few traditions in exchange for more peace. What a spectacular trade off.

The combination of regular life and celebrating makes a crowded month that can get intense instead of intentional. Are you the leader, planner, and doer of your holiday gatherings and decorating? Be intentional. Choose less glitz. Choose more peace. Choose the fun and laughter of loved ones over décor and traditions that have lost their impact.

Fourth, relax, relax, relax. Trees will topple. Soufflés may cave. Internet orders may not arrive. Remember that Jesus, the true reason we celebrate, is still the Savior. Plan silent hours in your home this next week, when nothing outside is allowed in, except that shivering neighbor borrowing a cup of sugar.

In your silent hour, don’t allow TV, radio, ringing phones, or texting to interrupt. If you are the homemaker, make a refuge spot for yourself—a comfy place in a softly lighted room where you can sit for a few minutes, sip hot apple cider, pray, and refuel.

The last hint is to make time to remember. Remember past family members and the Lord. If you have lost a loved one this year, don’t ignore their passing. On a tabletop, place a photo of them and a few of their favorite things. This gives your family the OK to talk about them and remember the loving contributions they made.

To remember Jesus’ birth, some people like to set up a nativity or display some other reminder of WHY we celebrate Christmas. My mother would place a red-leather covered Bible on the large dining table in our family room. Opened to Luke 2, she laid a cross made out of large spikes, a reminder that Jesus’ sacrifice is all about reconciliation with God.

I’ve prayed that you have no scrabbling this week, and may you receive everything needed to spell out MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours.

Also, get more hints her at

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