Today marks the first day of Christmas Break for my family. My husband is off for the next two weeks (which has never happened before!), and the kids and I are off from school. Over breakfast we discussed what we want to do with our holiday time off—but the notes we took down didn’t turn out like your typical Christmas Break Bucket List…
My husband and I are both project-oriented people. We’ve been building mental to-do lists for the coming “break” for a couple of months. So our family’s little exercise could have easily turned into another one of mama and papa’s project lists—without much room for margin.
That’s why my husband had us start our breakfast planning session with more general intentions: How do we want the next two weeks to feel? Not just, what do we want to do, but how do we go about it? What atmosphere are we trying to achieve?
This turned out to be a great place to start, guiding our hearts before drawing up schedules.
Here are our intentions for Christmas break in five words: Celebratory, Connected, Contemplative, Peaceful, Prepared.
Celebratory You would think that celebration ought to go without saying (and maybe that’s why it was the first word to come to mind!), but it’s easy to forget that a lot of our chores during this season have celebration as their goal. We want all our doing to be consistent with festivity, with celebration, with joy!
Connected The people God has put in our path are important. Family and friends near and far, neighbors, our local church—we want to strengthen these connections, sharing with them the joy of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Contemplative Amid the hustle and bustle, we want to take time to listen, read, learn, and consider. To think deeply, to pay attention. To share what we’re learning and thinking in a leisurely manner with one another.
Peaceful It’s good to be reminded that our break is not just an opportunity to get more work done! Even while we still want to tackle a few projects (especially between Christmas and New Year’s), we know we need to slow down. To rest. To be still. And to come at all our work and activities from a place of rest rather than rush.
Prepared We want to both enjoy the fruit of our labor (by being prepared for things in a timely manner) and enjoy the preparing process itself. We can enjoy the process if we remember that our preparations—of food, cards, gifts, etc—enable us to better celebrate and connect with others. And taking the time to calm our hearts, by contemplating the meaning of Christmas, we can more meaningfully engage in the work—even when it seems tedious or overwhelming. Making room for rest is as much a part of our preparation as all of the physical logistics.
It’s been fun to rethink our to-do list in light of these intentions! Making Christmas cookies and taking them to friends becomes an opportunity to connect, to share in celebration, to provide scripture on a card for contemplation! Our meeting over breakfast this morning was an important part of preparation for the coming weeks, so that we could set our hearts and then plan our days accordingly. Our Advent devotional listening to Handel’s Messiah invites us to contemplate the life of Christ as we sip eggnog together on the couch (connection). The kids are preparing Christmas songs on the piano, and we’ve been memorizing Mary’s Magnificat, providing contemplative and celebratory riches to share with friends and family—some in person, and some virtually. Even activities like hiking and cleaning and reading and playing board games and finishing up a few random projects take on fresh new color when we consider how they work toward the intentions we have stated.
As we’ve thought over our list today, we’ve also realized that each of these intentions are a part of our devotion to Jesus during this season. We are celebrating the birth of Christ, seeking to stay connected to Him in prayer and in the Word, contemplating what it means for God to become man, thankful for the peace that comes because our sins are forgiven in Jesus. And we are preparing our hearts to welcome the new born King—as a reenactment of history but also as a foretaste of things to come. The King will come again, and we must be prepared to receive Him.
May every heart prepare Him room…
What are your intentions for your holiday season? What kind of atmosphere are you aiming to cultivate?