Three years ago I found a fantastic list on a blog, a list of random kind acts a family could do during the holidays.
Two years ago I found it again, pinned it, and kept it open on my laptop for several weeks.
Last year I went back to find that list and even printed it out.
But other than filling a few shoeboxes and dropping change in the red buckets, not a single act of kindness has made it into our busy holiday schedules.
Oh, I have the best intentions! I make lists and brainstorm ideas; I get my girls excited for it and then…LIFE happens. We get busy with the family dinners, church programs, school concerts and the shopping, cooking, hosting and all the things that fill up our calendars but, sometimes, leave our souls empty.
I don’t want to let that happen this year.
That’s the key, too: we get to choose. We get to choose what we put on our plates and our schedules – and what we turn down. We get to choose where we spend our time and our money – and where we don’t. We get to choose when to stay home, when to take a break, when to create space for our families and ourselves to breathe.
I believe it’s only when we have that space – that margin – in our lives that we’ll be able to add back in the things that are truly most important to us.
This holiday season I want to stay focused on the real reasons we celebrate, and I want to allow room to celebrate those reasons with others. I want to skip the extra shopping trip and visit my grandma (or a neighbor or the widow from church) instead. I want to say no to the cookie exchange but yes to inviting friends whose families live far away to come over for dinner. I want to say no to more tinsel, more lanterns, more banners and baubles and greenery – and yes to care packages for the homeless or presents for the family in need or a chicken for our sponsored child.
It’s so much easier said than done, though. Do you think we can do it? Can we make room in our schedules, in our budgets, in our hearts for opportunities to give to others?
Yes, I think we can. And I think we start small and do it one holiday at a time.
As we head into the most wonderful time of the year, I challenge you (and me!) to say no to one activity or event per holiday. That means your challenge may be a little different than mine. For my family, though, it means I will look at our options for Thanksgiving, for Christmas Eve, for Christmas Day, and for New Year’s – and then I’ll decide which things we will let go this year.
Perhaps it’s an event, or perhaps it’s something you normally splurge on. Maybe it’s a tradition that stresses you out more than it warms your heart, or maybe it’s a meal you don’t even like to eat (much less spend hours cooking). Whatever your THING is, take a break from it this year. Let’s cut one thing from each of our holidays and see what that allows God to do in us, for us, and through us.
Because I believe that when we prepare Him room by creating margin in our holiday plans, He will give us amazing opportunities to bless others and be blessed.