How to manage the christmas season before it manages you

December 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

In 1926, the Neiman Marcus Company started publishing an annual catalog of unusual Christmas gifts; but for a number of years, the publication attracted little attention. Then in 1959, the Marcus brothers decided to generate publicity with eye-popping gifts for the person with everything. That year they offered a Black Angus steer, to be delivered either on the hoof or in steaks with a silver-plated outdoor cooker. Each year since, the gifts have become more extravagant. Last year’s catalog included a $1.7 million trip to send six passengers 63 miles above the Earth via Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo; or, for a mere $139,000, you could give your friend a limited-edition BMW convertible.

But Christmas can get out of hand even if you aren’t a Neiman Marcus fan. The stress and strain on our schedules and budgets isn’t what God intends; and I want to humbly suggest that if the holidays leave you worse for wear, you need to heed Henry David Thoreau’s famous dictum: “Simplify! Simplify!”

  • Set a spending cap for yourself, and covenant not to spend more than a certain amount for any one gift, no matter who it’s for. Reduce your gift list. Even one less person can be a significant savings of time, money, and energy.
  • Cut back on your schedule. You don’t have to attend every party or accept every invitation. Sit down with your December calendar and reserve some evenings for peace and quiet. (The secret words are: “I’m sorry; my schedule won’t allow it.”)
  • Don’t worry if your decorations aren’t all up. Less is more. You can vary from year to year which ones to use.
  • Take time for your devotions during the season. Keep a journal of your daily Bible reading, and select thirty-one people during the month to receive a special gift of prayer. You might compose a special prayer for each one, jot it on a Christmas card, and tell them it’s your heartfelt gift for them this season.

Remember, it’s possible to slow down when we have to. If you’re clipping along at 70 mph on the freeway and come to a construction zone, you have to slow down whether you like it or not. If you’re working 70 hours a week and come down with the flu, you have to slow down long enough to recover.

How much better to slow down by choice! Manage the season instead of letting it manage you. We can’t do it all, so we have to tackle the important things and leave the rest in God’s hands. It’s His agenda we should fulfill, and His burdens are light.

In the Dick Francis novel, Under Orders, the main character, Sid Halley, meets a political friend inside the complex of the British Parliament Building in London. Here’s the way he put it: I arrived at the Peers’ Entrance at one o’clock exactly . . . . The tones of Big Ben were still ringing in my ears as I stepped into the revolving door, a time-warp portal rotating me from the hustle and bustle of twenty-first century London on the outside to the sedate world of nineteenth-century quiet and formality on the inside . . . .

We all need a portal through which we can find a quieter life, at least occasionally. For too many of us, Christmas is a nightmarish revolving door in which we’re spinning faster and faster. But the wiser among us find it a sort of time-warp portal, rotating us from the hustle and bustle of twenty-first century life to the sedate world of a quieter time.

So this year, slow down, look up, breathe deeply, spend less—and simplify, simplify! This is the way of Christmas.

– cross walk

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