We might call the holiday season, former procrastinators, a marathon, not a sprint. We need to pace ourselves so we’ll have the energy to do what we need to do throughout the season – and so we’ll have the mental, emotional, and spiritual resources to enter into the celebration. Since we are observing the birth of our Living Savior we want to be fully present and engaged, not pooped out and irritable because we stayed up baking until 2 a.m. Which would He prefer?
This is a time of much going, giving, and gathering with others. How can we do what needs doing when it needs doing with margin as we celebrate Christmas? How can we allow more time for tasks and more time between them?
Go – If you or family are participating in presentations, coordinate rehearsals with everything else that’s going on. It might be wise to check rehearsal schedules before signing up. There are more special events than we can attend, so choose. Maybe alternate performances from year to year. The most professional may not be the most meaningful. Leave early to enjoy the drive, other people, and the presentation.
Parking lots are full. It may take 3 changes of the traffic signal to get through an intersection. Allowing extra driving time means you can sing along with the carols on the radio – and smile.
“Go” idea: Ask for or offer a ride to an event.
Give – Giving is an important part of the Christmas season. If your little ones are spending their money for gifts, allow much more time than you anticipate for decision making. If you’re making gifts by hand, factor in more hours than you expect to need.
Respecting margin in the shopping budget is a real stress reliever. The pressure we feel to purchase is not as great as the pressure we feel when the bills are due. It’s not as great as the disappointment when we realize we overpaid for one gift and cannot buy others. Keeping giving within the budget shows love and respect. Starting early helps make this possible. Last minute purchases or mailing tend to be costlier.
“Give” idea: Babysit so parents can shop.
Gather – If you’re an overnight guest this season, remember a small thank you gift and a note for your hostess. If hosting, decorate less and cook ahead. In advance, collect ideas and supplies. Select the houses for caroling, print out song sheets. Make sure you have the games, puzzles, movies you want to offer. That way you’re less likely to find yourself saying “Oh, I wish we’d…” Then hold plans in an open hand. Margin might include flexing to give up your expectations.
“Gather” idea: Invite a neighbor over for soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.
Our inner peace and interaction with family, friends, coworkers is much affected by seasonal stress. Margin allows us to pace ourselves for everybody’s enjoyment.
In which area – go, give, or gather – will you make a change that creates margin?