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Friday, December 11, 2015

Tip #2:  Enjoy the doing and not just having it done.

Christmas is a time of lists. Christmas wish lists. Shopping lists. Lists of names for Christmas cards and party invitations. Menu and grocery lists.

I'm a list maker, and not just at Christmas. I use an app to keep all my lists organized (Wunderlist, in case your are curious) that syncs to my phones, tablet, various desktop computers. That means my lists are always with me.

I love checking things off my lists. I've even added an otherwise missing, just-completed item to my to-do list, just for the pleasure of ticking it off.

In Tip #1 I cautioned against  letting your plans overtake your priorities.  Tip #2 is a similar, though slightly different caution about lists. Make sure you take time to enjoy actually doing the things on your list, and don't just take pleasure/relief in checking them off.

Watchfulness - Finding Meaning in the Mundane

I write a lot about being watchful. The simplest way to explain it is to say that watchfulness means taking yourself off of autopilot. It means paying attention to things that otherwise might go unnoticed.

Here are a few Christmastime opportunities for watchfulness.

Be Present in the Presents - Giving and receiving gifts is a big part of many people's Christmas traditions. But it can also be a source of a lot of stress and distraction. You've hear it said about gift giving, "it's the thought that counts." While it is true that the thought isn't always appreciated, be thoughtful as you plan, buy and wrap for those closest to you. Ask yourself what attributes about them stand out the most to you. What makes them a unique part of your life? How have they blessed you? What are you thankful for about that person? Think of giving a gift that speaks to one or more of these thoughtful questions, even if it's just a hand written letter to that effect. While time will certainly not permit you to do this with every person you give gifts to, consider whittling down your list to those in the center of your life. This will allow you to put more thought into fewer gifts.

Include Prayers with the Postage - We don't always send Christmas cards - some years are just too crazy. If sending cards is part of your tradition, consider praying for each family or person you send a card to. Maybe get the kids involved by dividing the names among your immediate family members. Is there a Scripture promise or blessing you could include for them? Don't just check off the names, but take time to actually to engage your heart as you send your cards. Another idea is to pray for the senders as you receive cards in the mail.

Pause the Preparation - Stop once in a while, in the middle of all the buying, baking, wrapping and cleaning to just be. Grab a cup of tea or coffee (or something stronger) and consider the meaning behing all that business. Find ways to enjoy yourself and take pleasure in the middle of all the doing. Spend quality time with your family. Pause to take a mental snapshot and give thanks in the moment (you don't have to post everything to Instagram or Facebook). Try not to be so busy and distracted that opportunities for meaning slip by unnoticed.

It's okay if none of these particular ideas work for you. The important thing is to find ways to make the doing meaningful and and enjoyable and not just stressful. Find ways to experience true joy, peace and enjoyment this Christmas.

What might you do differently this Christmas to find more meaning in the middle of the madness? Leave a comment.

Next time: Tip #3 - Focus on Relationships More Than on Things


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