If you are anything like me, the month between Thanksgiving Dinner and putting away the Christmas tree is typically defined by spending money and eating until I gain five extra pounds in cookies. Then the beginning of the year becomes defined by undoing all of that!

I want this year to be different. While this will be my fourth Christmas loving Austin, it is our first married Christmas, and in fact, the first Christmas we will have ever spent physically together. We are soon to have two weeks of time to spend with one another where we can either choose to fall into our normal routines, or we can choose to make the most of the season and still feel good about the choices we made.

So I made a list! A list of things I plan on doing this year to make my favorite time of the year as enjoyable as possible.

11008387_10203829117265273_2274703661656382952_n.jpgGo do stuff!

The weather is cooling off (finally), and it is beyond tempting to sit in my pajamas all day, sip on coffee, and take some much needed alone time. While that is a great choice for a few days, there is so much going on outside my little apartment. I want to spend this year spending quality time with my husband–seeing the things we don’t normally get to see and making memories as a new family. Here are some ideas that are fun and free!

  1. Go to a community Christmas Party! We will be going to “Not so Silent Night” this Sunday at Living Hope Baptist Church. We’re going to enjoy holiday concerts, food trucks, and even the lighting of a giant Christmas tree. If you’re in town, join us!
  2. Take a tour of the town Christmas lights. Every town has them: that one neighborhood that is over-the-top with twinkly lights surrounding their home. Go creep on those houses and be thankful you’re not the one who has to take them down in a month!
  3. Volunteer together. There are so many organizations that need help during this season. Make the most of your time together by giving it away to someone who needs it more.
  4. Visit someone who is lonely. Friends, we all know someone who lost someone this year. Take time to go grab them and do something fun to get their minds off of their missing loved one. Don’t talk about it unless they want to, just focus on rescuing them from the silence of their own home.
  5. Stay active. Whether you have a member at your local gym, use the treadmill in your apartment building, or just enjoy running in the cold, find time every day to stay active. That way you don’t have to feel bad about forgetting to put the cookies in the oven and having eaten all the batter instead…. or is that just me?

Don’t forget to relax.12650926_10205775046112278_3541693728455143015_n

But you just said to do stuff, right? I have Christmas shopping to do! I have to see all my
people in our time off! They’re having holiday sales!

Trust me, I get it. My inclination during this time is to go go go until Christmas eve arrives. Yet in all the hustle and bustle, it becomes so easy to forget why we are doing this in the first place. Like I explained in my last post, we tend to forget that this day marks the day over two thousand years ago when a little baby was birthed into a stable to save us. We forget to stop and consider that perfect child’s command to come to Him for rest. We lose sight of why we have the tradition of giving gifts in the first place and do not consider once the ultimate gift we have been given.

While we should absolutely do fun things with our loved ones this season, let us also take the time to take some good holiday rest. Here are some of the ways we can do that together!

  1. Begin your day with reflection. Reflect on what you have been given and how you can regift it–the good kind of re-gifting. Personally, I spend my first thirty minutes of every day sipping on coffee and reading part of a chapter of God’s word. In fact, I posted my December reading plan earlier today. Join me and keep me updated with what He is teaching you in this season!
  2. Cook a meal for someone who is hurting. Again, holidays are hard, hard times for so many. Use some of your home time cook a warm meal for someone who is mourning, even if it has been a while since their loss.
  3. Christmas shop… online! Sounds insignificant, but sometimes avoiding the craziness of holiday shopping can actually be great for our stress levels. I used a bunch of target gift cards on their website this year while sitting next to my grandma, enjoying her company.
  4. Watch the corny Christmas movies on Netflix. Let’s be real. It’s fun to sit around with friends and family and spend the first half of the movie making fun of the corny acting and over-the-top story line. Yet most of the time the end of the movie is pretty heart warming. It’s a fun way to decompress after your day and spend intentional time with people you love.
  5. Give the gift of presence. Wherever you are, whatever you do, be present with those you love. One of my greatest regrets from last year is neglecting to go spend time with my grandparents on the days I had free during the first half of my break. I had no way of knowing this, but it would be my last Christmas spent with my Papa. Obviously, we cannot expect to spend as much time as we would like with everyone, and definitely cannot tell how much longer we have with our family and friends, but let’s make a point to focus on one another rather than focusing on gifts and outings and holiday sales. When we spend our holiday season focused solely on making everything “perfect,” we miss the most perfect part: having set apart time to love on people and remember how much we are loved by our Savior.

Originally posted 2016-11-30 16:53:25.

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