I felt it welling up all too soon this year: the bustle of the holidays tip toeing ever closer, the pen and notepad begging me to make lists and to categorize my Christmas spirit into checked off items and piles of gifts wrapped beneath the tree. Not unlike the Grinch, my heart toward the holiday season was waning. With weeks to go before Thanksgiving, and December no more than peeking over the horizon, I’d already lost the twinkle in my eye about the holiday I’d once most dearly loved and longed to celebrate.
I couldn’t help but spend some time reflecting on what’s happened to Christmas inside of me. While I still see so much beauty the celebration of Christ’s birth come December 25th, I’ve spent the past number of years losing the depth and breadth of Christmas in the preparation for it and the things surrounding it. So much of what the season has become in my life is not at all what I want this season to actually be…
-Too many “Yeses” outside of the home have led to “Nos” where my time and heart ought to reside–celebrating with and teaching and loving on Henry and Eloise as they learn why Christmas is truly something to celebrate.
-I’ve made too many last minute trips to the store and had too many great expectations–for every last gift and every last detail to be perfect and perfectly wrapped.
-I’ve chosen hustle and bustle over resting and peace, demonstrating more to my family that the holidays are about getting things done than that Christmas is all about what God has done for us.
-I’ve made list after list and checked them all twice, overestimated my time, and underestimated my need for margin.
-And I’ve tried way too hard to please too many others at too high a cost. This is such a hard one to admit. When you love people, you want to make them happy. But sometimes happy for them means miserable for you, your spouse, your kids…and somehow, the holidays seem to bring out the best of the worst scenarios in this area.
When 2015 began, the word I sensed God putting on my heart for this calendar year was “intention.” To me, this meant applying intention to every aspect of my life and doing my best to steward it well. As this holiday season has come about (and all of the above challenges with it), I knew I needed to do something differently to exercise intentionality. So when I started to feel like Christmas was welling up in a hardened way in my heart, it was long past due that I spend time in reflection and prayer on the subject.
And something beautiful happened.
God gave me two words: graceful December.
Not gracious December or grace-filled December (although I believe God desires those things for us, too), but graceful December. Like the kind of December that moves fluidly and peacefully in and out of days–not hustling or bustling, but embracing, savoring, evolving, becoming more lovely as it goes.
I began hearing these words together day after day, and as December edged closer, they were moving in my heart and spirit in a big way. I’m delighted to enter into this month today, because it means graceful December has arrived! And as I’ve prayed about what that looks like for me and for our family, I’ve recognized that it begins with an invitation to all of you as well.
Welcome to a graceful December! I’m so glad that you’re here.
This month, I’ll be writing to you daily with words of encouragement as I discover things anew in the practice of living a graceful Christmas season. I’m SUPER excited to have some of my sweet friends joining me in this endeavor, and I cannot wait to introduce you to their beautiful hearts in the coming weeks as they post here as well.
I don’t know entirely what the month with hold, and I’m grateful for that. In these days when we all take less and less for granted, we hug tighter and longer, we pray more boldly and more often…we also welcome an invitation for graceful living like never before.
Let’s create space for breath and margin and whole, wholesome living and celebration this Christmas season, shall we? I know I’ve needed this graceful December to arrive in so many ways. How about you?
Off we go, leaning into grace together!
P.S. As you find yourself in moments of beautiful grace, let’s share them together and inspire more joy in community using #gracefulDecember. I can’t wait to see this undeniably graceful month unfold!