I feel like the number one regret I used to have every single holiday is that I’d inevitably turn into the 13-year-old version of myself when I’d get around family. No matter how hard I committed to be a grown-up who no longer belonged at the kids’ table, something would happen and I’d fall right back into old patterns.
A few years ago, I decided enough was enough and it was time to grow up. (Yes, even adults need to realize they should grow up sometimes.) Instead of playing the victim to circumstances or living as if things can’t change, I took some ownership and embraced these seven concepts. They’ve radically shifted how I interact with others during holidays.
We will never have no chaos, but we can choose #LessChaosMoreJesus holidays. These seven tips will help you do just that:
Put your oxygen mask on first.
We can’t manage family dynamics if we aren’t healthy ourselves first. Our flight attendants give us the best advice: “Put your own mask on first before you help others.” Oftentimes during the holidays we can’t help but put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. While the heart and intention are pure, the results can be damaging.
So what helps you breathe better? For me, I used to really struggle to spend time with Lord during the holidays. With people in and out or being on the road visiting family, I got out of my normal rhythm and routine. So I started planning when I would spend time with the Lord each day. It took more intention, but it has been a game changer. Don’t let the holiday seasons be excuses to “give yourself grace” on time with the Lord. Instead, let’s be women that lean in closer to the One who is grace. Let’s not deprive ourselves of time with Him because this season is busier or different.
Set realistic expectations.
One of the biggest joy killers and chaos inducers for me was having unrealistic expectations of others and circumstances. Now, I sit down before each holiday and list out who I will see and what I can realistically expect from them. I also list out what I can realistically expect the day to hold. I ask the Father to help me hold right expectations from others and things, and not expect more than they are capable of giving. Then, I bring my faith to the prayer, just as we should, and I ask Him to do a mountain-moving work with that person or situation.
You are a grown-up. (Act like it.)
I already told you I used to really struggle with turning into the 13-year-old version of myself. This was a hard concept for me, but was a tough truth I needed to tell myself: “Becky, stop acting like you are still at the kids’ table.” Granted, I will likely be at the kids’ table for many more years, but I don’t have to act like it.
It’s OK to not be OK.
So many emotions fill the holidays. I want you to know this, especially if it’s a heavy season for you: It’s OK to not be OK. Approach this season however you need to. Grieve if you need to grieve. And also, it’s OK to enjoy them even in the midst of grief. Let others know how you are feeling. You are not alone. (In my newest book, Sacred Holidays, there’s an entire chapter dealing with grief that includes encouragement, ideas, and Scripture to help you as you approach your holidays while grieving.)
Plan, plan some more, and then stick to your plan—with flexibility.
I’ve found the more prepared and planned I am, the better. It’s one of the reasons we included so much journaling and planning space in Sacred Holidays. I didn’t want us to only consume the content—I wanted us to make our own holidays sacred by planning and dreaming ahead of time. Discuss with friends and family so everyone is clear on who is doing what when. Plan for your time with the Lord. Don’t wait until the last minute to do things because there will be plenty of last minute things that come up. And then be flexible. Let’s have an open-handed posture before the Lord as we approach the holidays and everyone involved with them. Finally, remember that these are celebrations, not obligations.
Say no more (so you can say yes some).
There is so much power in no. I know we feel like really bad Christians when we say no, but there is power in it. Your friendships will be fine if you RSVP no to that party or don’t get a gift for every single person you know. Your family might be hurt if you say no to a tradition or an expectation to not stay longer, but you should say no to the things you know you need to.
With that said, when you say no, you create space to say yes to some really good things! A few years ago, I started this concept. We said no to every single holiday party and plan we were invited to that we didn’t have to attend. We definitely disappointed some friends and family, but you know what? We had the best year. And, I ended up hosting one of the Sacred Holidays Advent studies, He Is: The Attributes of God, at my house with a group of 30 friends and neighbors. It sounded like the craziest time of year to host something like that, and it ended up being one of my favorite things I did that year.
Be present. It might be the best gift you give.
We have become so distracted as a society. Phones can feel like something we just have to look at every minute. But we don’t. Let’s choose to put the phone down more this next year. One of my favorite traditions at Thanksgiving is to collect everyone’s phones and put them in a phone jail for the day. (They can only come out for a quick picture, and then they have to go back.) Let’s have actual face time with real-life friends and family. The memories made are worth more than any like or comment on social media.
Let’s go make our holidays sacred — holy and set apart. If you found this article helpful, we’d love to celebrate with you and see how you are applying it this year. Be sure to tag @sacredholidays and use #sacredholidays. You can also grab your copy of Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus by Becky Kiser, anywhere books are sold online and in LifeWay Christian Stores.
Becky Kiser is intent that women would fall in love with God’s Word, then feel equipped and empowered to live it out. She believes that women can live out their own wild story, just like the ones we see of God’s chosen in His Word, as they love Jesus and love people. She is the founder and CEO of Sacred Holidays—a ministry dedicated to helping women find less chaos and more Jesus during holidays through Bible study, community, resources, and lots of fun! She is determined to help women keep all the whimsy of the holidays, but help make them sacred—holy and set apart.
Becky has a background in marketing and ministry, and is a certified Myers-Briggs life coach, bringing each of those experiences into her writing. Becky and her husband, Chris, live in Houston, TX with their three girls.