I was talking with a good friend the other day, and she mentioned that what she remembers most in friendships is the things that take time. The beautiful handwritten card from one friend, another friend sitting with her at the hospital while her son had tests, another baking homemade banana bread every time they caught up.
I drove away from her place pondering this idea, the idea that things that take time, things that are slower often are the things that are more meaningful.
But we are coming up to Christmas, and I don’t know if it’s just me but has the Christmas madness started earlier this year?
Are people already too frantic to exchange pleasantries at the checkout? Are they already too frazzled to drive carefully in the car park?
This year I am craving a slow Christmas: a Christmas of intention and connection; a Christmas of being, not consuming; a Christmas of reflection and not hustle.
So over the next four Sundays, the four Sundays of advent, I will be posting about slowing down in this Christmas season. Today we start with slowing your Christmas … deliberately.
Because it is counter-cultural at this time of year to slow down. Everyone else it seems is rushing. The advertising in the shops screams at you that “it’s your last chance buy.” There is a Christmas countdown everywhere to tell you exactly how little time you have left. It is all about hustle and rush.
The fact is that if you choose to go slow in this season, you are going against the flow. And like paddling against a current, it will be hard, and you need to be deliberate. A slower Christmas will not just happen, it will take intention. So here are three intentional things we have done to create space for a slower Christmas.
Take control of your calendar
So start with being deliberate with your calendar. Leave space in your days, don’t cram it full of catch-ups and then squeeze shopping in the margins. Already the December calendar for our weekends (in particular) is looking full, but we are being intentional and leaving space for our family to have down time each day. We are saying no to some things, good things, in order to have the time together we need.
Choose the traditions
We are also being deliberate with what we choose to do for Christmas this year. We are aware that we can’t do everything that is available. There is so much fun stuff that we can do as a family in this season and FOMO is very real. But we know that trying to get it all done is not practical.
So we have chosen a few key activities that are for our family this year. Next year may look different. But we know our limits as a family and we are putting boundaries around the traditions and activities that go into our Christmas this year.
This is super practical, but a lifesaver for our family. We have a list of easy meal ideas for these hot summer evenings after we have been out all day. We have quick options in the freezer. We have a variety of snacks and nibbles available for catch-ups with friends. We shop and stock now so that dinner doesn’t become a hassle, and one more difficult decision in the midst of the crazy.
We are deliberate about wanting to slow our Christmas and so as a family we are taking time. Time to look at our calendars. Time to agree the most important Christmas activities and traditions. And time to plan easy meal ideas.
And yes it seems like work, but actually a few decisions now give us the freedom to have a slower Christmas season.