The Secret to a Joy-Filled Christmas While Juggling Pinterest-Perfect Holiday Expectations

Photo 78493871 / Christmas Checklist © Julia Sudnitskaya |

My friend, Pam, always said that men believed in Santa Claus because when they woke up Christmas morning, everything had already been done. They neglected to see the behind-the-scenes work: baking, cleaning, shopping, etc.

Know the feeling?

Joy bursts from the Christmas story like fireworks on the Fourth of July. When we still had kids at home, I felt like everyone was bursting with joy—but me. 

The only thing that burst from me was stress. And if you stood too close, you probably caught some too. 

Today, it’s different. Discover the joy of Christmas by following these three steps. 

1. Prioritize. What’s really important to you? 

  • Making memories and being present? (I mean truly present, not exhausted because you pulled an all-nighter setting and decorating the table.) 
  • Or crafting the quintessential social media post? 

My kids don’t remember what our table looked like. They do remember our Christmas Quest and it’s a family legacy today. 

2. Simplify. Some things have to go. Take a look at your to-do list. What can you delegate? What can you modify? What can you cut? Here are a few ideas.

  • Ease holiday baking by participating in a cookie swap. 
  • Swap out the china for paper goods. (Pinterest has Christmas table decorating ideas with, yes, paper plates, and they are Christmas-dinner worthy.) Your company would rather have you at the table with them than slaving over a soapy sink of dishes.
  • Consider giving experiences (tickets, memberships, classes) over physical gifts. Less wrapping and shopping. More memories. 
  • Instead of a traditional holiday meal, have everyone prepare their family favorites. 

3. Focus. Keep Christmas Christ-centered. 

  • Advent.
  • Nativity plays. 
  • Christmas carols. 
  • Daily readings of portions of the Christmas story. 
  • Conversations about the biblical figures who lived the Christmas story. 

The Incarnation calls us to celebrate. To worship. Vigorously. Intentionally. With joy in our hearts. 

Set aside the to-do list and lose yourself in the story.

Walk with Elizabeth and Zechariah through nine months of pregnancy and silence (Luke 1:21-25). 

Feel Joseph’s courage and boldness as he approaches Mary’s father after a dream-filled night (Matthew 1:24). 

Sing the Magnificat with Mary (Luke 1:46-55).

Sing with Zechariah when his silence is finally broken (Luke 1:67-79). 

Fall to your knees and shield your eyes when the heavenly host appears to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-9). 

Walk the Temple grounds with Simeon and Anna as they are led by the Holy Spirit to the infant Jesus (Luke 2:25-38). 

Rejoice with the Magi as the star miraculously reappears (Matthew 2:10). 

And worship. Worship Christ the newborn King!

P.S. Here are a few things to get you going. 

1) This is Whitney Houston singing “Joy to the World” in the movie, The Preacher’s Wife

Best. Version. Ever. 

2) The Chosen Christmas Special

3) Bible Readings of the Christmas Story for December

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