I am forever and always on the lookout for how to find stillness and “true meaning” at Christmas.
Oh how we want it! Am I right?
A push for stillness this season
I have felt pushed to find that stillness and focus on what’s most important this specific Christmas season in the wake of those loved ones we have lost recently. (I just added quite a few more thoughts in the comment section of that post, by the way.)
So much depth to ponder when you lose those you love. It reminds you to think more carefully about how you are spending your days. Are you allowing yourself to get caught up in the rush, the glitz and the gloss? Or are you truly focusing on that baby in that manger all those years ago. What that means to us. How it can change the way we look at our loved ones.
Are we really looking at them? Are we slowing down time to be together? Are we renewing our connections? I believe this is what brings in that true Christmas spirit.
So when we were brainstorming ways to wrap up this fourth season of our In the Arena podcast I wanted this to be the topic.
How can we keep Jesus in the center? How can we intentionally place Him there? How can we slow down enough to make it so?
Despite not loving listening to myself on a podcast, (ha!) I love this episode.
We missed my sisters Saren and Charity who couldn’t join, but loved having my parents who recorded with us and along with my wise sister Saydi, spilled out their velvety wisdom on the topic.
I’ll let you listen to the episode to hear the whole conversation, but I wanted to put a couple “teasers” here, and also add a few things I’ve thought of since we recorded. I want to reinforce these in my brain and heart so sometimes it’s good to write them down!
Ideas to help slow down and “be present” this Christmas season
Read Luke 2 before all the Christmas prep
Often we read this beautiful story of the Savior’s birth on Christmas Eve, but what a difference it can make to read that story before we even dive in to all the hoopla! Everything is based around that story, and if we bring Jesus in early, all the hub-bub seems to make more sense.
Concentrate on the beauty of giving
This is one of my FAVORITE little videos to remind me of the joy of giving:
Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the lists of people we are trying to shop for. All those “to-dos” staked up high. But why are we even giving in the first place? To honor that baby Jesus. To help turn ourselves outward. Sometimes I think that gets lost in the shuffle for me.
There is nothing that helps me slow down more than to have an excuse to sit down in the middle of the chaos and read Christmas stories under the Christmas tree.
When kids know this is a “tradition” they will help you find time to make it happen. This is one of my favorite pictures of Lucy, waiting for me to “slow down” with her and read those stories “under” the tree.
We have gathered so many favorite Christmas stories through the years and oh how I miss those days of snuggling up with a good book and letting that Christmas spirit seep into our home.
Come up with a “Christmas mantra”
I love this idea from my sister Saydi’s wise friend Heidi. Having something you write up to read to yourself each morning (or whenever you start getting frantic) has the power to make such a difference! I’m working on my own Christmas mantra. I love this idea so much.
In a way, having a Christmas Mantra is really like having your own prayer you are offering up over and over again. Willing your heart to get in line with what God wants of you and what you want of yourself.
There is an example of a beautiful mantra in the show notes of the podcast episode.
Think about how you talk about Santa vs. Jesus
Figure out how to differentiate between the two. My dad and Saydi had some of the best wisdom to share about this. I LOVE that Saydi shared a quote from one of my favorite books of all time. I have written all kinds of thoughts about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is chock full of the best parenting thoughts. But I had forgotten about this quote:
“I know there is no Santa Claus.”
“Yet you must teach the child that these things are so.”
“Why? When I, myself, do not believe?”
“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable things which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
I loved what my dad had to say about that topic as well.
Look into faces
This is one of my favorite things that happens when I slow down: I look into faces. I see eyes. When you focus on someone, I think you can see into their hearts.
My favorite painting of Jesus just might be this one:
I wish I knew who the artist is. There is something about those hands cradling that face. The focus on that child. The love I sense in this posture. Oh it is so beautiful to me. And I think about it often. I want the people I love to be “seen” the way Jesus sees that child. Honing in. Aware.
Slow down. What’s most important?
Listen to this Faith Matters podcast:
I loved listening to all the ideas they share in this podcast. I love that they talk about how we are “ripening” for Christmas as we prepare. Such a beautiful way to think about these couple extra weeks before Christmas.
Ok, so much more in that podcast, but I so wanted to share a couple of my thoughts here too.
You can listen in to Saydi, my parents and me over here:
Please add your thoughts and ideas of what YOU do to find more stillness and meaning in Christmas either on this post or on our In the Arena Instagram account.
Sending so much love on out there as we all prepare for this sacred Day on the horizon. May we all seek and find more love, stillness, connection and hope as we ponder on what’s most important.