Luke 1:44 – As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.

Gratitude Day 795

The countdown to Christmas has officially begun. Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday deals have abounded. There are less than 30 days to celebrating Jesus’ birth.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and yet, often the most hectic time of the year.

I love Christmas. All the preparations, decorations, planning, baking, visiting … I love it all. Personally, Advent marks for me the beginning of the march towards Christmas. With the first Sunday of Advent tomorrow, I already feel the march has begun. Yesterday, I enjoyed baking lots of different cookies and candies for our Deaton Family Christmas in a couple of weeks. The various lists are forming and I am beginning to anticipate just what can and cannot be accomplished in these next four weeks.

As I think about these things, at the front of my thoughts is this: “I want to eke out every little bit of JOY! I can this Advent. For real. Rather than flying through Advent and arriving at Christmas in a self-induced coma of too much, overdoing and not enough moments to try and enjoy Advent, I have begun to think about how I can slow things down and squeeze as much enjoyment and joy out of these next 4 weeks of Advent and Christmas. I am challenging myself to truly be more intentional and mindful about what I plan, do and take on this Christmas.

And I thought, someone else might enjoy my thoughts about how to slow down Advent and find all the joy I can. Here’s my game plan.

  • Make a short list (and I mean short!) of the less than five things that you really want to focus on this Christmas. This list can only have as many fingers as you have on one hand. Period. Keep this list at the forefront of everything else you plan for Christmas. If anything off of this list will prevent you from doing something on this list, it gets kicked to the curb. Period.

So, what’s on my list? Christmas Eve candle-light worship. Our Deaton (my family) Family Christmas, which is always a highlight of the year. Gathering the Vielhuber’s (Hubby Rick’s family) at our house on Christmas Day. This year, I want to visit a well-known light exhibit in Janesville, WI, the Rotary exhibit. This has been something I have wanted to do for years. It made my short list this year, so it WILL happen! Everything else will be a bonus. Or not necessary.

  • Cut back the decorations we put up at home. Yes, I LOVE to decorate our home for Christmas. It just makes the house feel special and welcoming when we have company. But it also takes a lot of time. This year, I am only going to put up the decorations that I absolutely love. If it doesn’t make this list, then it’s finding a new home. What if every decoration is something you love so much you can’t do without? Maybe put some out this year and decide if those things that didn’t make it out of the box are as special as you thought.
  • Use what you have. Period. This is one of my well-used and favorite sayings of late. It’s OK if the plates you have aren’t Christmas plates. The ones in your cabinet will work just fine.  Don’t seem to have the “right” basket or container for the bulbs you want to put on your table? Find a pretty bowl and use this instead. Often, we already have what we need. We just need to think a bit differently about what using what is already in our possession rather than purchasing something new.
  • Think about giving “experiences” as gifts rather than “stuff.” Most of the people on our shopping list need very little. Rather than buying things that will make up more space, consider an alternative gift. Buy them tickets for an upcoming concert, movie, or ski-lift tickets. Take the person for a special meal at the restaurant of their choice. Give them your time and attention. Believe me – they will LOVE it.
  • Lower your expectations. Is it necessary to make 15 kinds of cookies and candy? Probably not. Instead, buy some at a fundraiser or only make half of the kinds. Look at the upcoming days and make sure you keep a day or two with nothing planned on it so you can have time to do those things listed in #1. It’s OK to say, “No” to something. Or choose to do something that fills your love bank instead of what someone else has deemed as “important.” Attend a local concert that you know will fill your heart and soul. Skip the outing that will take a lot of your energy. Give yourself a break and be intentional.
  • Finally, find time to simply sit and look at your Christmas tree. The last number of years, I have done this on Christmas Day night. Hubby Rick often had to work. After the kitchen was cleaned up and the last guest gone, I turn off the other lights and simply sit with hot chocolate and enjoy our tree. I reflect upon what the birth of Jesus means for me. How this significant event has changed history. I listen to my favorite Christmas songs and take it all in. It’s a lovely way to simply enjoy the reason for the season.

Just in case you missed it, tomorrow officially begins Advent. Look at this Advent Devotional 2022 which allow us to give to others this Advent. There are two options. Pick one or do them both.

What are you doing this Advent to help slow down and honestly find the JOY of Advent and Christmas? I would LOVE to know. In the meantime, Happy Advent!

For the desire to slow down and find JOY this Advent, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Most Holy God – The next few weeks will probably fly by. We fill find  ourselves running around, trying to do it all this Advent season. Instead, challenge me to rethink the next four weeks and to focus on the true reason for the season. May I find all the JOY You desire for me to experience this Advent and Christmas. Amen.

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