My mother was a list maker and I’ve inherited her penchant for check lists and notepads along with her hazel eyes and prominent Roman nose. I make shopping lists, to-do lists, people I need to call lists, and yes, even lists of the lists I have to make.

I’ve got it bad friends.

These lists are a veiled attempt to stay on top of things; remain in control and sane at all times, but it’s not working. Life seems perpetually out of control and I’m constantly in danger of loosing it.

What “it” is, I’m not entirely sure – I just know I can’t be without it.

The more out of control I feel, the tighter I hold on, gripping harder and harder, until one final squeeze sends life flying out of my hands like a wet bar of soap.

Like a hand grenade without its pin, I’m a danger to anyone in my blast zone. One small nudge and I’ll blow. There’s the small stuff of life, like tiny snowflakes piling up over time, creating Everest-like snowdrifts; meals to plan, laundry to put away, vet visits long overdue, not to mention the blocked drain and the rotten window sill.

Then there are the tender issues of the heart like whether we’re ignoring Jesus in the Christmas hub-ub and what news will the CAT scan bring for my friend who’s discovered a lump?

Do you have things big and small you’re trying to keep under control?

Are you tightening your grip a little more each day as Christmas approaches? Are you drowning in lists too?

If so, welcome to the club my friend.

I’ve discovered that writing one more list can push back the craziness of Christmas and the ache of an uncontrollable world, and usher in the peace and joy of the season.

It’s not your regular list of actions and things not to forget. It’s a Christmas To-Don’t list.

What’s a To-Don’t list?

It’s a list of all the things you don’t have to do or mustn’t do, this Christmas, in order to maximize the love, joy, peace and reason for the season. Quite simply, it’s the pin for the human grenade we become around this time of year.

Here’s some of the highlights of my To-Don’t list but feel free to make your own;

I don’t have to:

  • Have a perfect house to have a perfectly lovely Christmas.
  • Get out of my PJ’s on Christmas morning if I don’t want to.
  • Say yes to every invitation.
  • Do anything to make God love me (or my family) more.
  • Do it all – I can delete, defer or delegate (of which delete is the preferred option).
  • Do any laundry – we’ve all got enough undies to last until the new year.
  • Agree with everyone – especially my teenagers.

I shouldn’t:

  • Eat too much on Christmas Day (yeah, good luck with that one!)
  • Fret about getting cards from people not on our Christmas card list.
  • Try and make every photo Hallmark worthy.
  • Delete every picture of me (it’s that Roman nose that does it).
  • Compare my Christmas/family/outfit (insert anything here) to those on Facebook.
  • Try and be someone I’m not.

Do you get where I’m going? Do you think you could make a To-Don’t list too? You’ll be amazed how many things you can put on it; some funny, others serious and meaningful. Go on, give it a try.

I confess, I still have a To Do list because no, I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping, posted all my cards or hung all our decorations, but you know what? Those will get done, eventually, even if it’s just before the clatter of hooves is heard on the roof.

When life’s out of control we tighten our grip, while God invites us to loosen it. Let’s give it to God or give it away. One way we do that is by making a To-Don’t list.

When life's out of control we tighten our grip, while God invites us to loosen it. Let's give it to God or give it away. One way we do that is by making a To-Don't list. Click To Tweet

As we enter the final run up to Christmas and the stress grows, can I invite you to take a moment and write your To-Don’t list. Share it with friends and family, share it here or on my Facebook page  and use #Todontlist and I pray we all find the peace and love that tiny baby came to give us that first Christmas morning.




Grab a couple of FREE chapters of my book Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart.

It’s a road map for thriving, not just surviving, no matter what life throws at you and is or anyone whose life has fallen apart, either over night or slowly over time.

If you need a no nonsense, down-to-earth practical friend who’s been where you are, who’ll help you dig for the rubies buried in the rubble on your life, this is the book for you.





Keep in Touch


Get all my best stuff in your inbox + a free audio download