As we deck the halls, former procrastinators, let’s think through our approach to celebrating Christmas. Our December theme is Celebrate with Margin. Margin is a stress buster – and we need a lot of that this month.
During the holidays, procrastination-prone folks tend to put off what needs doing, then rush to cram it in. Or, in the “spirit of Christmas” we accept too much responsibility. Or, we have grand ideas of what we’ll do. We feel like failures if we don’t cross stitch all ten stockings and we inflict pain on others sometimes if we do – but whew, we got it done.
Margin is especially important during this season. Rushing steals Christmas joy and blurs the focus on Jesus. Margin means allowing extra time for tasks and more time between tasks. There will be moments of madness and days with extra pressure, but those do not have to characterize our celebration. The Lord is better exalted when we reflect Hs peace and purpose as we observe His coming.
To help us do what needs doing when it needs doing – and relieve stress – we can calculate the number of days we actually have to work on Christmas preparations. My tally: 9. I actually have only 9 Christmas prep days between now and Christmas Eve when the first Arrival comes in. There are many more days, but they are not available for Christmas preparations. Imagine my frustration if I hadn’t discovered that!
I’ll have to choose priorities and focus on those. Such calculations are an application of Psalm 90:12. “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” It is wise to do less and enjoy more. It’s wise to build in margin.
Project: Calculate how many days you actually have to work on Christmas.
- Write down all the things you want and/or need to do. Highlight the priorities. Make a reasonable estimate of the time required to accomplish each thing.
- Literally count the days between now and your Christmas celebration.
- Then, as far as you can tell, count the useable work days. These will be fewer than the total. I have learned to omit Sundays, days with sizeable commitments, days with appointments requiring lots of driving, etc. (Using small bits of time is smart, but be realistic about the hours available to you. Build in margin; avoid disappointment and frustration.)
- Is the number of days/time available to you sufficient for all you desire? Adjust by choosing to focus on priorities. Eliminate some activities. Avoid putting yourself – and others – in a bind. Allow margin for winter weather, illness, shipping time, etc. Do not plan tightly. Do less, enjoy more.
The tree, gift giving, yummy once-a-year treats, special events, reading together, focusing on Jesus all become more enjoyable – and doable – when there is margin. Time for Him. Time for the people in our lives.
How many Christmas work days do you calculate having?