It’s time to face it: sometimes we just have too much going on and too many people we’re trying to please that, cumulatively, makes it impossible for us to actually enjoy the holidays—the holidays that we are so busy trying to helps other people enjoy. A simple remedy for this conundrum is to simply cut away the distractions. As a-traditional as the following two category-examples might be, they are worth considering for yourself if you are on the verge of pulling the last hair out of your head this season on account of doing too much.
Nobody says you have to go to church more than once a week (or at all). This is a personal decision, of course, but if your weekends (and weekdays/nights) would be more restful spent in the privacy and intimacy of your own home instead of racing off to church (especially with little children in tow), then a break might be beneficial during the holidays (which I know is counter-intuitive, given that Jesus is the reason for the season, as the saying goes). Church is not synonymous with God (though some people think it is). So just keep the two distinct (even though they may be interconnected), and you can still have holy moments at home and worship time in your heart. If Jesus is with us always, then we don’t have to always be going to church to be with him. Though with that said, church is the best place we can be to experience the benefits of corporate worship or to have encounters with God that otherwise would not happen if we were not with other believers. What I am speaking to is the point in one’s life where it becomes too much with “everything else” going on to keep up appearances for the mere sake of keeping up appearances. If that is the reason why we go to church, then a break would be good for us. If we can continue to go with a right attitude all the while staying in a restful space in our life, then that is great. No reason to take a break if you don’t really need it.
It’s also not mandatory to send out cards or mail packages. If you can, cool. Nothing says, “Merry Christmas” like a package delivered to your doorstep or a festive card in the mailbox. But at this time in our lives—where it feels like our literal sanity is hanging in the balance anyway (with young children to raise), not to mention that it’s Christmastime—it’s most imperative (redundant?) to take care of our own selves and families, and then if there’s time and energy left over, we can keep spreading the cheer. Again, I know this is counter-intuitive from the faith logic we may have been taught. ‘Tis the season to give, give, give—not to draw and enforce boundaries of any sort. But, look, we have already lived a good portion of our lives giving more than we should have ever been expected to give in the first place, so if we are looking for a healthier life and a happier existence, the answer is going to be found in doing things a little bit differently than we might be used to. We are the people who are the ones sending out the cards and packages even when no one else does them. We are the ones still holding out hope and giving our last ounce of us and thinking of the very last person who would ever be thought of. We are those people. So it’s time for us to re-evaluate some things if we are finally at the point where we just feel like enough is enough. If we can keep doing those things out of the goodness of our hearts while expecting nothing in return, then awesome. But something tells me that we are kind of tired of being the only ones who continue to care when everyone else has long since turned out their lights. So bring the care home-ward. Keep caring for your own family. Pull out all the stops for yourself and your children and your spouse and your home. Conserve your energy a bit by knowing where your property lines are metaphorically-speaking and staying within them (if even just temporarily). Because now we are investing our personal resources in a better way. It’s not our responsibility to give other people somewhere out there a happy holiday season. Our only responsibility is to our own family first. Cut away any other distractions. At least for now while things still feel a bit weedy (you know, like “in the weeds”).
Do all of this without feeling one bit guilty. It is always the right choice to conserve your care for those closest to you—most especially if you feel like you are coming apart at the seams a bit. You cannot make up for what other families might have dropped the ball on with their children. But you can do something for the children in your care—yourself and your spouse included. Put first things first, and then extend yourself beyond your own family nucleus if you are so inclined.