Okay, friends. Buckle up.
Steel your nerves.
The countdown is on.
Halloween is over, and so the holiday season is now officially upon us. This is, of course, the “most wonderful time of the year,” but it’s also the most ironic time of the year. That’s because this season which is supposed to be brimming with joy, gratitude, and peace increasingly feels like it’s instead jam packed with anxiety, overcommitment, and turbulence. The holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas is lived at a frenetic pace that, in many ways, detracts from the inherent spiritual emphasis with which the season is intended to have.
We have a choice here, friends. The choice is whether we, once again this year, sit back and let the holidays “happen” to us and then try and pick up the pieces of frustration and exhaustion afterward, or whether we do something proactive about it. And one of the simplest, most practical, and even most spiritual things you can do, right now, at the beginning of the season is to make a holiday calendar.
That’s right – a calendar. I would even go so far as saying that it should be a printed calendar. Perhaps this is something, as it is for our family, something you do together over dinner. It’s the one moment when every member of the family brings all their commitments – all their parties, all their fellowships, all their get-togethers – as well as all their seasonal desires – shopping, baking cookies, watching Hallmark movies – and lists them out one by one. Then you set about placing all those things on the calendar. It becomes, then, a guiding document that every member of the family can refer to.
Why do this? There are, of course, practical reasons for doing it. A calendar like this helps keep a family from overbooking itself on multiple nights. It also ensures that activities you want to do as a family are spread out throughout the two months instead of getting to the week before Christmas and trying to pack everything in at one time. But there are also spiritual reasons for making a holiday calendar. Here are three of them:
1. A calendar helps you make room for rest.
Rest is a spiritual thing. Or at least it should be. Because when we rest – not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually – we are expressing something about our faith. We are expressing that we believe God never goes to sleep, and so we can sleep in peace. We are further expressing that we don’t have anything to prove to anyone because of our pace of life and participation in various activities because Jesus has done all the proving for us.
But rest is one of those things that is first to go when the commitments and opportunities start to stack up. If, however, you take the time to create a simple holiday calendar then you can build in “untouchable” hours and even days into it. You can make sure that the season before us is actually restful, but only if you make a plan for it to be so.
2. A calendar helps you make the most of moments.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are special times. They are the times in which lasting memories are made. Those moments can’t be fabricated or manufactured – they are organic in nature. And yet we can play an active role in trying to cultivate them. A calendar helps you do that.
Do you want to make cookies as a family? Plan a time. Do you want to have a special date with your daughter or son? Plan a time. Do you want to watch It’s a Wonderful Life in your pajamas? Plan a time for it. If we don’t actually make a plan and secure time for moments like these, then they are much less likely to happen because we will just be too busy in the moment to set aside time for the moments.
3. A calendar brings intentionality to margin.
If you make a calendar and you really do list out everything you both need and want to do this holiday season, everything from driving around and looking at Christmas lights to going to the office party, then you might find you have more time than you think you do. This is especially true if you take the disciplined approach to assigning an actual evening or afternoon to these various activities. But why not go an extra step at that point? When you realize that, when you make a plan you have margin in your holiday season, bring some intentionality to it.
Deliver cookies to neighbors. Visit an assisted living home. Serve with a local ministry. These are all things you can do with the margin you didn’t know you had until you actually started planning out the holidays.
It’s an easy step, friends, but an hour right now will save you a huge amount of stress later. Not only that, but calendaring your holidays will help open you up to the greater meaning of this season. It will give you the mental and physical space you need to truly reflect on the coming of Christ who, of course, brings true rest and peace not just in this season for forever more. Remember, you are a steward of time just like you are a steward of your money. Let’s do what we can to bring intentionality to the time we have been given this season.