We’re in the sweet juicy middle of the Christmas season right now, friends. I’m just back from my last speaking event of the year in Bloomington, Illinois. Here are photos from that beautiful event hosted by the Immanuel Bible Foundation.

Like you, I’m getting myself ready for the Christmas holiday. Last week, I shared my Christmas confessions with you and loved all of your emails about your Christmas confessions, like:

Hi Barb!

Thank you for sharing your Christmas confessions. I have one: I decided instead of going through the process of making a pork roast for hours then shredding it for sandwiches, I’m going to Gordon’s and buying their already shredded pork and heating it up!! My stepdaughter and husband are flying home for Christmas from Arizona and I want to be able to spend as such time with them as I can. I pray you have a blessed Christmas. In Christ, -M

Today, I’m sharing my Holiday Don’t List with you. I created this list to help me let go of control, unrealistic expectations and cut down on frustrations.

1. I don’t assume that all Christmas traditions will stick around year after year.

I love Christmas traditions! Some of my favorite childhood memories include bundling up as a family and driving around our town’s stunning Christmas gazebo uptown and singing Christmas carols. As my kids were growing up, we put up multiple trees in our house and each tree was decorated with a specific theme. We also ate lots of snacks and watched movies on Christmas Eve after attending our church’s Christmas services.

However, seasons of life change. As our family changed, I was frustrated because I couldn’t hold onto those traditions like I wanted to. I spent a few years fighting for traditions that didn’t fit anymore. But, I finally had to let some go. I prayed and asked God to help me know which ones were important to keep and to also help me create and embrace some new traditions.

If you have a tradition that is increasingly difficulty to keep doing or you sense a lot of resistance, then perhaps, it may be time to let it go and allow something new to take its place.

List some of the traditions that you participated in last Christmas, like sending out Christmas cards, hosting family gatherings or opening presents on a certain day.

REFLECTION: Which traditions create connection and which traditions have become a source of conflict (either with others or within myself)? What might you need to let go of?

2. I don’t cook more than one large meal between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

First, let me say that you don’t have to agree with me, but this could rock your world – ha!

Here was the problem I faced for years: I used to assemble a giant Christmas Eve spread, then cook a full Christmas breakfast the next morning too. But, I noticed that my family barely touched the third meal of Christmas dinner later that day because they’d already eaten so many large helpings of special foods in less than twenty-four hours already.

Here’s my strategy: I like to use the “Small, Medium, Large” approach between Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas morning breakfast and Christmas Day dinner.

So, I made one of these three meals small, one medium and one large. For my family, Christmas Eve dinner is medium-sized. I offer three or four appetizers and dessert that night because we play board games and watch a movie after church. Christmas morning breakfast is a small meal. I make homemade cinnamon rolls with bacon and orange juice. That’s it. Which means that Christmas dinner is the big meal and by then, everyone is hungry enough to enjoy the meal.

REFLECTION: How do you feel about the amount of time, energy and effort you spend on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals? Can you make any adjustments to reduce the amount of work you’re doing so you can spend that time and energy with your family or resting?

3. I don’t skip pictures.

Ladies, stop skipping the family photos or standing in the back where only your head is visible. Do me a favor…look in your phone at last year’s Christmas photos. How many photos are you in? If you’re in the photos, are you in the forefront or tucked in the back of the photo behind everyone?

Years from now, your grandchildren and great grandchildren should not only hear about your faith and love for others, but give them the gift of SEEING you live it out in photos during the holidays!

Christmas is more than the gifts that you buy, the meals that you cook or even the Advent study that you’re doing right now. Christmas is about being present in the celebration of God sending Jesus to earth for you. One way that you can honor the spirit of Christmas is actually being seen in the memories.

For me, this means not caring that my hair isn’t done on Christmas morning or that I don’t always have on cute pajamas. I want to be seen celebrating Jesus’ arrival on earth. (At the same time, let’s honor each other by getting permission about which photos we’ll share online and which ones will go into the family album.)

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you need to make it a point to actually be a part of Christmas photos?

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK: This is my Holiday Don’t List and I’d love to know if you’re agreeing with any of these. What’s on your Holiday Don’t List? How are you making sure that you’re letting go of control and enjoying the holiday season?

Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with me!

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