Simplifying the Season

At the beginning of this month, we had a lesson at church about the trio of holidays–Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years–and talked at length about how they are each related to each other and why celebrating them together can actually enhance our enjoyment of the holiday season.  I hadn’t really thought about it in this way before but haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

Thanksgiving sets things up for us with our focus on gratitude and being thankful for what we’ve been blessed with in our lives.  I wrote a post about this at the beginning of the month just a couple of days before we had the lesson in church.  Someone made a comment during our lesson that when we show gratitude to God for our blessings, we receive a fullness of the blessing that we wouldn’t receive otherwise.  I think showing gratitude really grounds us.  As a family, we work together and rely on each other to grow and learn.  Last year, we started a couple of traditions that I really love and helps us get into an attitude of gratitude. 

After Thanksgiving comes Christmas.  I love that we have just been through a season of gratitude and that carries us into Christmas and a celebration of the birth of Christ.  We have a handful of traditions surrounding this holiday that I love and really help set the tone for the month of December.  Helping our children understand the reason for the season is one of our main focuses during the holiday.  We do our best to simplify our activities so we don’t become overwhelmed to the point that the magic and spirit of Christmas is lost.

Then comes the New Year when many of us make goals and promises to ourselves that we will try to improve in some way.  It is both a literal and symbolic chance for new beginnings.  We’ve just finished seasons of thanksgiving and celebrating Christ and I am often filled with feelings of hope and desire to do better.  I’ve found that it is often the simple changes I make in my life that make the biggest difference.

This holiday season, I’m teaming up with Justine from Little Dove and other talented bloggers to introduce the Simplifying the Season series.  The series will go from 11/21 to 12/26.  Each week there will be a post on Little Dove in this series: The Great Christmas Round Up (11/29), Focus on Family (12/5), Focus on Traditions (12/12), Focus on the Savior (12/19) and #SimplifyingTheSeason Link-Up Party (12/26).

If you’d like to participate in this series, it’s as simple as sharing how you are going to refocus and simply.  As Justine says on her blog:

“Share it on your blog, share it on your social media, just share it!  Maybe you have some tips about how to stay calm with holiday guests, maybe you have a family tradition you want to share that helps you focus on family time, whatever it is I want to know how it helps you with simplifying the season!  This should not be something that adds yet another thing to your holidays, just something to help you enhance them, helps to refocus them on what truly matters to you and your family this season.”

Be sure to use the hashtag #SimplifyingTheSeason and then link-up the week after Christmas.  Justine will be picking her favorite posts that she feels best exemplify the spirit of simplifying this holiday season to send a special gift to!

I encourage each of you to simplify and refocus during this season.  One of my favorite decorations I put up this time of year says “Simplify Christmas, Celebrate Christ”.  I truly believe that if we put even just a little bit of time and effort into doing this, we will be filled with the Christmas spirit.  Our burdens will feel lighter.  We will feel a stronger desire to help and serve others.  I love the magical feeling that accompanies this time of year and wish it could last all year round.

What are your favorite ways to simplify during the holidays?