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.
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.