“Twas two nights before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
Except me, that is.
And quite possibly you.
That’s because 50% of people suffer from insomnia due to stress, and Christmas is so stressful that 45% of American would rather skip it altogether. That’s so sad, and unfortunately for us ladies, we’re twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. Whoever said Christmas was a time of peace obviously hadn’t seen my action list – it’s more Old Testament scroll than post-it note.
So if you’re the one stirring in the wee hours while the mice are snoring loudly, you’re not alone. It’s only two days until Christmas and there are still presents to buy, cards to send, mall madness to navigate, children to ferry around, and painful memories to wade through.
So what’s a girl to do? Is more tea and coffee in the morning the only answer?
As you know, I’m a self confessed list keeper, with lists of the lists I have to make. They calm me – the very act of committing things to paper unburdens my small and overworked mind. There’s my supermarket list, Target list, thank you note list, present list, Christmas card list, meal plan list, and the list of “people who sent me cards that I really must add to our Christmas card list.”
This year I added my To-Don’t list. It’s a brilliant reminder of all the things I don’t want to do this Christmas, like saying yes to every invitation, laundry and thinking I need a perfect house to have a lovely Christmas.
The To-don’t list helped destress me, but as the grey dawn of morning announces a new day, I’m reminded that I need to look inwards, as well as outwards, this Christmas. So I’ve made a To-Be List. The goal of the To-Be List is not to name everything Facebook and the world of CrestWhite smiles and TV commercials tells me I need to be, but rather, to list everything I’d like to be this Christmas, to be fully me – the me God created me to be.
Here’s a taster of my To-Be List.
This Christmas I want to BE;
- Present in the present – it’s so easy to fixate on hurts and failures in our past, and worry about all that’s to come in the year ahead. When we do, we find ourselves absent from the moment, unengaged in the present. I want to BE PRESENT emotionally, physically and spiritually. That means putting the past and the future in God’s hands.
- Brave and awkward – Christmas can be a smorgasbord of difficult situations, strained relationships and uneasy conversations. When we bravely choose to step into the awkward, vulnerable places in love, we are choosing connection over division.
- Myself – So much easier said than done, but I want to embrace the me I was created to be. I often hide the real me away, believing the world and the enemy when they say I’m too brash, not good enough, embarrassing, a lousy friend, and in need of a little refining. Yet God says we’re enough and He loves us just as we are.
- The light in someone else’s darkness – Christmas isn’t light and laughter for everyone. For many there’ll be empty places at the table, children’s stocking lying unfilled, medical diagnoses to navigate and financial burdens to carry, all darkening the silent, holy nights of the season. Being the light in someone else’s dark times can be as simple as a hug that says “I know it’s hard and painful right now, and I’m so, so sorry.”
- The first one eating chocolate on Christmas morning. Some traditions must never fade with the passage of time, and this is one of them. As kids, as soon as my we found the Smartie packets (delicious English multicolored chocolate buttons a bit like M&M’s, but waaaaay better!) buried deep in our stockings we’d start munching. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without chocolate for a pre-breakfast snack.
- With Jesus – Not taking time to be with Jesus; celebrating the meaning of His birth and the impact it’s had on us all, would be like throwing a massive party and not spending a moment with the birthday boy. He’s the reason for the season and I want to be with Him.
What do you want to be this Christmas?
Will you join me in being present in the present, leaving our messy pasts and unknown futures in God’s hands? Can you step into the awkward situations that lead to healing, bravely choosing the path to connection over division? Who’s the real you – the one God knitted in your mother’s womb? Can you be that person this Christmas? Is there someone in your life that could do with a hug and a little light in their darkness? What would it look like to take time to be with Jesus in the business of the next few days – a church service, rereading the nativity story with your kids, or maybe five minutes of quiet just breathing Him in?
When we combine our doing with our being, taking turns to do then be, we make wonderful Christmas music; do-be-do-be-do!!
Will you sing with me this Christmas?
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
PS. If you want to try and beat me to the Smarties on Christmas morning you can find them here – but hurry, I’ve already got mine.
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