Simplifying the Holidays

Feeling overwhelmed by the holidays? Wondering, like Linus, if Christmas is too commercial? 

Welcome to the club.

My pillow (in the background of the photo) says it in many languages...it's Christmas. In December 2019, just prior to COVID taking over the world and forcing us to a sudden stop, I wrote a note to myself. I just stumbled across it again and felt that it was worth sharing with a larger audience because three years later, it still resonated with me. Oh, the stresses are different (homeschooling vs. finding teacher gifts), but the sentiment is still the same. And the reminder...every bit as pertinent. May you find encouragement in what you read below, and take heart...the Reason we celebrate is greater than the chaos of this world! 

This image is the personal property of C.G. Koens and may not be used without permission.

I'm usually super prepared, with everything wrapped and ready to go at the beginning of November. But this year everything's sneaking up on me...teacher gifts (I have them all, just not wrapped, and as to WHEN they'll be delivered...well...that's anybody's guess!), last week of school events ("Mom, are you bringing anything to...?"), gift card exchanges (Wait, what? WHY?), work projects (right, that's due right after Christmas, and I'm not working that week, so I need to turn it in this week, so...), bills (oops, look what got buried on my desk!), and now a feverish hubby (he's actually used 2 sick days - highly unusual for him) who's also out of commission for parenting, which makes me realize just how much I rely on him to help me juggle things when he comes home after work. And then last night, when the 8-year-old came in and said he felt "exhausted" and didn't balk when I suggested he go put on his pajamas and go to bed at 5 p.m., I knew another one was down for the count. I told the girls this morning that none of them were allowed to get whatever bug this is, and that you had to have a "Y" chromosome to pick it up. We'll see how well that works.

At any rate, after dinner and getting everyone in bed, and checking on the two sickies, I plopped on the couch for a moment and appreciated my new birthday shoes (courtesy of my amazing Hubs, who knows me so well) and the Christmas tree and a moment to be still.

I've seen a number of posts this year from people who are feeling overwhelmed, over-committed, and unprepared. I'm sure Mary felt the same way...but NOT for the same reasons. 

Although I thought I'd intentionally slowed down this year, I find myself feeling like I've been wound too tightly. I just discovered a bag of fun Christmas goodies that I bought because I wanted to be intentional and make some fun memories with the kids...but it was hidden under all the STUFF I need to deal with. Life IS busy, especially with five kids, but last night made me realize I don't want to miss WHY we are celebrating. 
Don't get me wrong...I love the tree and the lights. I love the music and the food (a little too much on the latter!). I love hunting down gifts that will make the recipients squeal. But in the end, the Grinch was right...it's not about the tinsel and trappings, and it doesn't come from a store.

Two thousand years ago (give or take a few years), a teenage girl said, "I am the Lord's servant," in response to a message that would make her a cultural outcast, potentially end her engagement to a good man, and change the course of her life forever. I am thankful for her example, that she responded in this way and opened her life up in obedience to God's calling, no matter how crazy it sounded to her family and friends. I know a tiny bit about what that feels like (believe it or not, some people thought we were a little nuts for adopting 5 kids at once...go figure!), but being available when God called was, much like Mary, one of the best decisions we've ever made.

And so this Christmas, in the midst of busyness and sickness and holiday folderol I want to stop and say the same: I am the Lord's servant. I don't know what that will look like, but I do know it means being open to being pulled in the directions that He chooses. That might mean getting involved with people who need to see His love this season, or it might mean focusing on instructing the kids in what's eternal and what's of this world. Whatever it looks like, He must increase and I must decrease.

If you've read this far, Merry Christmas, everyone!


  1. oh how I need to remember this: I am the Lord's Servant. That's what makes this broken life fixable, not perfect but perfect for me because it's what God has given me, his servant..

    1. Thanks, Jane! "Not perfect, but perfect for me." Indeed.

  2. I love this! I am actually thankful that being sick for the last month has mandated a slower, simpler Christmas season for us. Turns out that being forced to pick only the most important things (activities, decorations, traditions) really highlights what's truly important to us... and serves as a reminder to keep those priorities in the right order!

    1. I totally agree, Elizabeth! My parents have found the same thing to be true of moving during this season. Keeping only the things that really matter to them and donating everything else.


A reminder: there are more than 400,000 words in the English language, please use them wisely.


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