Are Deadlines Killing Your Christmas?

Remember the days when all we had to do at Christmas time was sip hot chocolate, trim the tree, and wrap gifts, all while listening to Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole croon out those wonderful old carols?

Yeah, me neither.

For so many of us, Christmas has become another item on our To-Do list. One that we keep moving as deadlines grow ever more dire.

It’s crazy. This time of year, the time when we celebrate God’s greatest gift to us, we end up pressured and frustrated and gritting our teeth when we take precious hours to be with family, all the while champing at the bit to get back to our writing, or social media, or managing sale prices on our books, or whatever it is that we think we should be doing for our career, to make the most of the holiday season.

Two weeks ago we talked about the need to STEP. Today, friends, let me ask you all to STOP.



Right now.

See all that scrambling and doing and stressing for what it is: Distraction. And even worse, deception. No matter how important you think it is, if it’s keeping you from focusing on what is real at Christmas, it’s not worth it. So what’s real? Well, not sales. Not promotions. Not word count. But God’s grace. Gratitude. Joy. Family. Friends. Praise. Peace. Those are real. And they deserve your focus and time and energy.

Take time off from everything but what’s real. What’s that? You can’t afford to do that? Friend, you can’t afford not to. We talk a lot about the necessity for writers to refresh and refill their creativity and hearts. But you have to be willing to take the time to do that. Don’t miss this Christmas season, friends. Don’t miss what God has for you. Which means you need to…

Open your eyes to the gifts God is giving you. That unexpected snowfall that turns the world quiet and sparkling and white. That call from a friend you haven’t spoken to in years. That moment of shared laughter with a sibling or spouse. Whether it’s something that delights for a heartbeat or for hours, look for God’s blessings. His gifts. Be present for them. Savor them. They’re all around you, if you will just stop and look for them.

Prepare for all of the above. Okay, if you’re facing a deadline now, that’s going to be a little hard, seeing as Christmas is just around the corner. But no matter how tight your deadlines are, no matter how many words you need to write or how important that promotion is, decide right now that you will not, under any circumstances, do anything on Christmas Day but celebrate what’s real about the season. I mean it! No sneaking away for an hour to write. Instead, if there’s a time when folks are relaxing and you don’t have anything to do, rest. Relax. Focus on the season and the Savior. Nothing else.

As for next year? Make Christmas a priority, and don’t let life and “stuff” interfere with it. Start now making a plan for next Christmas. Set deadlines and work accordingly. And decide that when things happen, as they always do, you will not surrender the real joy of Christmas. That you will keep, at the very least, two days reserved and sacrosanct. Because you need to focus on what’s real in Christmas. You need to be steeped in the joy and wonder. In the warmth and grace. In the power of focusing on what God did for you, for me, for each of us that night all those years ago, when a baby’s cry split the air, sounding the beginning of the end for sin and death.

Don’t miss Christmas, friends. The real Christmas.

You need it.

We all do.





13 Responses to Are Deadlines Killing Your Christmas?

  1. Stephen Schwambach December 14, 2016 at 5:59 am #

    Thanks, Karen. Great advice. So hard to do, when so much depends on you. The key has to be taking that clear-eyed look at what can truly wait…and what will turn out to be a disaster if you don’t do it – or can’t find someone else who will do it (and do it right).

  2. Robin Bayne December 14, 2016 at 6:50 am #

    Great advice and so timely. Merry Christmas!

  3. B.J. Taylor December 14, 2016 at 7:26 am #

    Beautiful, Karen. Thank you for this wonderful gift.

  4. Jeanne Takenaka December 14, 2016 at 7:38 am #

    Karen, thank you for the reminder to keep the main thing as the main thing. I don’t have promotion or wordcount or those sorts of things this Christmas, but I have craziness all the same. And your reminder to keep my mind focused on Jesus and not the distractions hit home with me.

    I hope your Christmas is a special one!

  5. Natalie December 14, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    Love this much needed reminder!! Merry Christmas!!

  6. Sheri Dean Parmelee December 14, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    Thanks for a great reminder, Karen. I have a list of deadlines on my to-do pad and some of them are very worthwhile, such as two rehearsals for our church cantata, the cantata itself, and final grades, but they can sometimes overwhelm the real meaning of Christmas. We all need to be careful to make sure that doesn’t happen.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  7. Janet Ann Collins December 14, 2016 at 9:27 am #

    Wise words, Karen.

    BTW I’m still praying for you.

  8. Linda December 14, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    I love this reminder. I visualize a quiet night so long ago, with people shoving and hurrying all around, and a frightened and confused couple carrying out the divine plan of God. A Savior in the form of a baby was born in the midst of that bustle. A small thing, hidden away and easy to overlook; just as He often is today in the middle of our hurried schedules.
    Thank you again for pointing us in the right direction.

  9. Karen Ball December 14, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    Thanks for your responses, friends. May the spirit–and endless love–of that first Christmas overwhelm you this year.

  10. Grace Fox December 14, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    Thank you, Karen. A great reminder to focus on what matters most this season.

  11. Bonnie Lacy December 14, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    This is good. I just grabbed next year’s calendar and wrote on next December: “No book launches!”

    Due to procrastination and family surgeries, I am having my book launch this Friday and Saturday–in December!

    My bad!

    And may your Christmas be Blessed!

  12. Dianne December 14, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    If it weren’t for Sundays and holidays, I’d just keep forging ahead every day, day in and day out. If I could just get more done, write more, I’d have more books and articles published…

    I have often thought God gave us one day a week plus holidays (thinking also of the celebrations given to the Jewish people in Old Testament days) in order to keep us from forging ahead every day, day in and day out, and forgetting what’s important.

    Thanks for the permission to stop. And the command to stop. In the past I tended to miss Christmas and other holidays because I don’t stop. I’ve been working on changing that the last couple years.

  13. Frenchy Dennis December 19, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

    Thank you for the reminder. Deadlines can be deadly if they fall at Christmas time. But the Savior deserves our time and adoration. I pray I’ll do better next year.

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