School Christmas parties, shopping, work Christmas parties, grocery shopping, church Christmas parties, Christmas concerts & recitals, traveling, decorating, baking! Not to mention if your kid gets sick in the middle of all of it. It is A LOT!!
Buried underneath all of that busyness, we can get distracted from the reason why we're doing any of it!
Reasons to Slow Down this Advent
So, why are we doing it all? Why are we running ourselves ragged for the entire month of December?
- Jesus. I've said it before & I'm saying it again (because I'm getting older & you get to repeat yourself more as you get older). How amazing that this entire festive season has as its origin the birth of our Savior! While capitalism has nearly scrubbed the religious meaning from Christmas, the very name itself reminds everyone of WHO we celebrate.
- Family. Sometimes, this is THE reason we're stressing. We're trying to make the magic! But, I know my kids would rather have a fully-present, less-distracted me than the gingerbread house decorating. Or a less-likely-to-snap me than going to all the extra Christmas events offered everywhere.
- Ourselves. Our bodies were never meant for the unrelenting busyness & constant input from so many sources. The stress & lack of sleep takes a toll on our health. We see a pattern of rest that goes all the way back to creation. Our good & wise Creator designed our bodies for rhythms of rest.
How to Slow Down this Advent
Here are some ideas for how I'd like to slow down & focus on the beauty of this season.
- Start in the Word & prayer. How easy is it to neglect this needful thing? Incredibly easy! Personally, I've been struggling to keep up my consistency in these spiritual disciplines. It's been made even harder as the days get shorter. However, I know that time in God's Word & in His presence in prayer is SO important. I cannot expect to enjoy or feel connected to the true meaning of this season if I am not keeping my regular time with God.
- Find an Advent devotional. Whether its a personal one, a family one, or a combination of the 2, this is a wonderful way to slow down & keep the true meaning of Christmas from getting lost in the hustle & bustle. I'll share a few that I've found.
- Risen Motherhood has released an Advent magazine. I haven't had a chance to look through it yet, but you know it is gospel-filled encouragement for your heart! And it's free!
- Another freebie is an Advent devotional from Brytni McNeil. I recently found Brytni on Instagram & have really enjoyed her authentic desire to share kingdom living with her followers.
- The Good Book Company also offers so many short devotional books that are perfect for Advent.
- Listen to Biblically-rich Christmas music. I'm not saying you can't "Rock around the Christmas Tree" or crank up that Michael Bublé CD (because the people who love Michael Bublé are definitely the people who still have CDs). You can enjoy the fun, lighthearted songs about the magical feelings that come with Christmas. There are also so many Christmas folk songs that are worth a listen or two. But make sure you take time to for the old Christmas carols & hymns, as well as the newer, Gospel-centered songs that are being written. Check out Sovereign Grace music or the Gettys for some great places to start. CityAlight, Caroline Cobb, Rend Collective, JJ Heller, & so many more! I also enjoy listening to Handel's Messiah. The words are pulled directly from the Bible & really lifts my focus from the mess of this life to the beauty of our Wonderful Savior!
- Let go of something. Of course, we all have things that we HAVE to do. If you're a music teacher, you probably have recitals or concerts. If you are an active member of a church body, you need to be there to teach Sunday school or hold babies or greet visitors. And of course, dinner has to be made, toilets need to be cleaned, & laundry needs to be folded. But is there one thing you can give up or delegate or even do ahead of time that will allow for a slower pace next month? Here are some ideas:
- Give your kids a cleaning task they can be in charge of for the next month. Anything that might be over & above their usual responsibilities. Depending on their current workload, maybe its starting a load of laundry. Or washing the dishes more regularly. Wiping down the countertops after dinner. You know what you need done that Your kids can handle easily or with a little instruction. Approach it as this being an opportunity for them to bless their family this Christmas season.
- Buy a pie for that office Christmas party instead of making it. Up here in NH, lots of family farms offer homemade pies for sale during this season. When we lived in Maryland, the Amish market always had delicious baked goods. I say there's no shame in helping small, local businesses! It might be a little more money, but it's worth it if it fits in your budget & allows you a little more margin to slow down & enjoy Advent.
- If you can't afford to have someone else bake for you, is there anything you can bake & freeze ahead of time? I know lots of people bake & freeze scones ahead of time for Christmas morning or prep & freeze a quiche or breakfast casserole. Another idea is to make extra now that you can freeze for the busy nights in December. Like extra taco meat or extra sauce to put on pasta. Or the leftover soup. Or even just prepping & freezing the veggies that you'll need later. Use the last weeks of November to feed the freezer. Your future self will thank you.
How I Plan to Slow Down this Advent Season
Perfection isn't the expectation. Progress is. Christmas is still a busy season. But here are some things I'm going to incorporate this Advent season.
- An Advent Wreath - Our old church would have Advent candles lit for each week leading up to Christmas. While I'd heard of & seen Advent wreaths & candles, that was my first time actually interacting with & hearing more about the meaning behind them. This year, I wanted to incorporate this tradition into our house, so I hopped on Etsy to see if I could find anything handmade. I ended up ordering this one because it seemed simple & small to store, but it has yet to arrive. I'll make sure I share a picture of it later.
- An Advent Devotional - I shared a few above, and I'm planning to do this one. I also plan to break out the Jesus Storybook Bible resources because we haven't done that one in a couple years.
- Working Ahead - I'm not entirely sure what things I'm going to make ahead, but as I make meal plans for this least half of November, I will have that in mind as I shop & prep. Future Elaine will thank me for helping her out!
Advent is such an important time for us as believers. Taking extra moments to meditate on the true meaning of this special time of year is my goal. By doing that, I hope it will lead to a more peaceful, slow-paced holiday for our family.
As always, I am cheering you on!