The holidays are upon us. Twinkling lights and evergreen garlands drape the stores, holiday music fills the airwaves, and the ugly Christmas sweater reappears. Whether you love the celebrations or want to move straight to 2023, this season always brings an added layer of stress. We might not have control over all our plans; however, there is plenty we can do to de-stress our Christmas.

Pull away from the hustle and bustle during this hectic time to allow time to pause and breathe. Maybe it’s spending time with a friend who can talk us off the merry-go-round. Maybe you need to walk away from a conversation that dredges up old wounds. Perhaps you need time to refresh your soul. This pulling away could look like a few quiet minutes in the bedroom, a walk around the block, or time in God’s Word. It might mean saying no to people and invitations. Free yourself from guilt when asking for this time for yourself.

Put away perfection and strive to bless rather than impress your family and company. This might take some thought. What do your guests need? If we can identify the felt needs of those coming, we can better serve them. Consider how your child could participate. Also, a smile or hug at the door, a scented candle, a roaring fire in the fireplace, and leftovers for departing guests say, “We see you, and you are welcome here.”

Pass on some invitations this month. Pass on Elf on the Shelf. Pass on negative thoughts. Pass on whatever is wearing you down. It doesn’t mean it’s a permanent pass, but a pass for this season. You can always revisit the person or event next year. Maybe you don’t need to cook everything but could delegate meal preparation or support a local entrepreneur in preparing some foods. You get to choose what to do or not do. While we’re at it, let’s pass on the daily sweets. Experts agree that excess sugar is unhealthy, so delay eating the fudge and candies until Christmas. Your body will thank you.

Ponder the miracle and significance of this season. We race through December and arrive at Christmas Day exhausted. What if we set boundaries once a week for a Sabbath moment to reflect on Jesus’ birth? Let’s shift focus from our wearied world and ponder God’s promises: I am with you. I will help you. I will comfort you. Let’s recall the reason God sent his Son to earth—to provide peace and hope through the forgiveness of sins.

We can do this! We can pull away when needed, put away perfection, pass on things that wear us down, and ponder what is important during this season.

Sally is offering FREE Advent Devotions for Families on her website at She and her husband enjoy an easy rhythm in their empty nest.

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