4 Ways I am “Saving” Christmas This Year

Does this sound like you? Every year when Autumn comes around, and the Christmas stuff starts going on sale, you think, “This year I’m going to be organized and not wait until the last-minute.” But, then you blink and Christmas day is here and it’s like, “Whoa, where did the time go?!” (Please tell me I am not the only one!)

Well, THIS year, I have made a firm decision to really make a change. THIS year, I’m going to really be organized, relaxed, and actually enjoy the Advent and Christmas season. I am “saving” Christmas for myself and here are four ways you can save it for yourself, too!

4 Ways I am Saving Christmas This year

1. Change Your Mindset.

Instead of the go-to response, “Ugh, I am so not ready for the holidays,” this year, I am going to embrace the onset of the holidays. The holidays are a gift! They are a time to give thanks, spend time with loved ones, play with traditions, and, most importantly, to remember that God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, became man for our sakes.

Jesus, the Living God, born of Mary, became a BABY. Jesus is the reason for all the festivities of the next few months – no matter what the stores or the world says. Therefore, when stress or angst about the craziness of the season gets to you, take a couple of minutes to slow down, breathe, and remind yourself of what is important.

2. Learn to say NO.

You know, you really don’t have to say yes to every opportunity or “obligation” that comes your way. Just say yes to those things you really want to do or to those things that bring joy to your life. If you feel like you can’t say no, say “maybe” instead. Take some time to check you calendar and think about whether you want to say yes or not. If you don’t, a simple, “I’m sorry, that won’t work for me.” Is enough. You owe no explanation to anyone!

Remember, you control your calendar. If something is on the calendar, it is there because you added the item. It is up to you to leave margin in your schedule. If you don’t control your calendar, it will control you! Or, at least, everyone else will control it for you.

BELIEVE me, I know how that can be. There are a lot of good and enjoyable things that happen during the Advent/Christmas season. I hate to miss out on good things, too. Nor do I want to let anyone down, either. It is so much easier to yes something rather than face the self-imposed guilt of saying no. In the end, though, it’s not worth it. In order to keep sanity, to stay healthy, and to actually enjoy the holidays, you  need to say no to some things.

3. Enlist Some Help.

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Delegate what you can or ask your spouse, children, or other families to help you with what you need to do. If you can afford it, you can even hire some temporary help. Get a one-time housekeeper to do a deep cleaning of your house. Use photo cards so you don’t have to handwrite every card and then have your children (or a teenager looking to make a couple of bucks) stuff, lick and stamp the envelopes. Of course, baking is one way to get the children involved – even if it makes for more work in the clean-up afterward!

With a little creativity, I am sure you can come up with tons ways to delegate your many responsibilities. Maybe getting help for the next couple of months will inspire you to continue to delegate into the new year!

4. Plan Ahead.

It really does make a difference if you can take some time to plan what you need to do and when. Getting, and staying, organized isn’t that hard if you have a plan in place.

Last year, I made a Christmas planner that made a difference for me. Unfortunately, I thought of it too late so it wasn’t as helpful as it could have been. So, I got myself in gear early and created one for 2017. I am already starting to use it and love it already! I was expecting to keep it to myself but when I told some friends about it, they wanted one too. So, I went ahead and created two: A dated planner for 2017 and an undated planner to be used for multiple years.

I will tell you, right off the bat, that it is nothing too fancy. There aren’t any pretty fonts or fancy tables. It is a clean-cut, straight-to-the-point planner that gets the job done – just how I like it! And, because it is in an e-book format, you can either print out the whole planner at once or just print out the pages you want.

To get the 2017 dated planner go here, and for the multi-year, undated planner go here.

Resources

I will be using the Advent Prayer Journal again this year. Using it last year definitely helped me keep the focus on the meaning of the season.

This year, I am hosting my first (free) virtual Advent retreat. It will be done via Facebook Live in my FB Prayer Group. More details to come soon, so if you aren’t in the FB Group, you can join here.

Why do Catholics Celebrate Ash Wednesday?

For many non-Catholics (and many NEW Catholics) Ash Wednesday can seem a little strange. Why would anyone want to walk around with ashes on their head all day? And many cradle Catholics have been going to mass and getting ashes every year without understanding why, as well.

Why Do Catholics Celebrate Ash Wednesday

Image by Balaska (2009) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

What is the significance of Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is a day of prayer and repentance. We fast, we abstain from meat and we get ashes as a reminder of our human frailty. It is a day to remember the spiritual reality that surrounds us; we remember that our earthly life is only part of the journey. We will die and our bodies will “return to dust.”

Ash Wednesday is a gift. Yes, a gift. This day of repentance is a gift because it gives us the opportunity to take stock of our lives. It is almost like a “spiritual New Year” where we can assess our relationship with the Lord.

  • Have we grown in our relationship with the Lord over this past year?
  • Have I grown lax or lukewarm?
  • In what areas of my life do I need to change in order to become the person God wants me to be?

From this reflection, we can make “resolutions” or a plan of action for how we will spend our Lent this year. Instead of focusing on giving up coffee or sweets or whatever (which are good things in themselves), we can give up those habits or sins which are holding us back. Or we can make a plan to learn more about our faith or pray the scriptures more often.

Why Ashes?

There is a long history of the use of ashes as a sign of repentance. I encourage you to read the History of Ash Wednesday over at American Catholic.

As regards to the rite of ashes, it is very simple. We go up to the priest or whomever is distributing the ashes. He makes the sign of the cross (well, it should be a cross!) on our forehead while saying “Man you are dust and to dust your shall return” or a similar phrases. This phrase comes from Genesis 3:19

“By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat,

Until you return to the ground,

from which you were taken;

For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.”

Our Obligation

Ash Wednesday is not a holiday of obligation. We are not required to go to mass, but it is strongly recommended. And why wouldn’t we want to go if we are able?

We are obligated to abstain from meat and to fast today. The fasting requirement consists of one full meal and two smaller meals that equal one meal. No snacking or eating between meals. Of course, beverages are allowed.  Everyone over the age of 14 is required to abstain from meat and everyone between the ages of 18-60 are required to fast. (See Canon law 1250-1252) I think pregnant women are exempt, but not sure.

Related Links

Here are a couple of links for further reading.

New Advent

About.com

Fallible Blogma

I pray that today and your whole Lenten journey be a blessed and grace-filled time for you and your family!

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