Every season of life requires intentionality to keep us purposeful in how we spend our time, our money, and our energy.
But maybe no season requires greater intentionality than the holiday season.
We are bombarded for months with offers, advertisements, and store displays begging for our attention. The calendar fills quickly with both obligations and opportunities. And healthy habits are routinely exchanged for unhealthy ones as visual cues pile up around us.
To claim greater intentionality, here are 10 simple Christmas truths we need to remind ourselves every year:
1. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy the perfect Christmas.
Retailers will try, again this year, to convince you of all the things you need to buy to create an amazing holiday season for your family—gifts, ornaments, lights, food, clothes, even inflatable characters in your front yard.
2. Keep your main thing the main thing during this holiday season.
Each of us will define our holiday “main thing” differently. Many will seek spiritual renewal. Some will celebrate family. Some will refocus on giving to others. Some will seek rest. Some will set aside this year to remember the passing of a loved one. Others will consider the opportunity to evaluate the passing year and refocus on the next. Many will choose a combination of the above.
But your most important step is to define your main thing this holiday season and not allow anything to distract you from it—not the presents, not the activities, not the food, and not the obligations.
Often times, all the things we think will help celebrate the main thing, only distract from it.
3. Memories are not made of toys.
Recall your most precious Christmas memories. Maybe one or two involve a gift that you received.
For the most part, our most precious memories from the holiday season involve time together with loved ones—not things molded out of plastic.
4. You don’t need to continue holiday traditions that leave you overwhelmed.
It was Rachel Jonat who first said, “Reminder: we don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke and overwhelmed.”
She was right. But we need to be reminded every year!
We are in control of our lives and decisions—even during the holidays. And you can remove yourself from the hustle and bustle whenever you want (or need) to.
5. Look for those who are hurting.
Christmas is a difficult season for many—especially those who suffered a significant loss during the past year.
Take an extra moment this season to reach out to a friend or family member going through their first Christmas experience without a loved one. Sharing some Christmas cheer will increase their joy… and yours.
6. Your presence is the greatest present.
The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. When you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.
You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. You can buy a present, but you can’t buy more time. So give the gift of your undivided attention as much as possible this holiday season.
After all, if you are spending too much time and energy away from loved ones this holiday season searching for the perfect gift, maybe you are looking in the wrong place.
7. Don’t overspend your budget.
70% of Americans will overspend their holiday budget this year. Be reminded again: Don’t do it.
Your Christmas joy will not be enhanced by spending more money than you have.
Remember that making payments for the next five months on your Christmas purchases is the quickest way to end up with negative memories about the season rather than positive ones.
8. Clutterfree gifts are absolutely possible and appreciated.
The holidays do not need to result in extra clutter in your home or child’s room. The giving of gifts can be done in thoughtful and meaningful ways, without overspending or contributing to consumerism.
In fact, there are clutterfree ways to both exchange gifts and show love to others.
9. The holidays are a season to be grateful, not discontent.
Discontent is the fuel that allows consumerism to flourish.
As soon as we believe another purchase will improve our lives, we tie ourselves to consumeristic outcomes.
Unfortunately, there is no season like the Christmas season to foster discontent in our lives. And this tendency is quick to ruin the entire season for all of us.
When discontent grows, gratitude shrinks. It takes consistent reminders to celebrate all that we have, rather than focus on all that we don’t.
10. Christmas is a time for peace.
The Christmas season is to be a celebration of peace, goodwill, and reconciliation. Yet, for many families, thoughts of peace rarely accompany the holiday season.
Instead, the exact opposite is all too common. Years of bitterness, resentment, and depression have been piled on top of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and misbehavior.
And while it’s unreasonable to assume that every family will find peace this year, it is reasonable to assume that at least one family will. And maybe (just maybe), it will be yours.