By celebrating the true gifts of the season, I believe you can have a peaceful Christmas.

As the holiday season approaches, the air becomes filled with excitement, anticipation, and a flurry of activities. But amidst all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to lose sight of the true essence of Christmas.

I don’t know about you, but it seems that more and more this time of year is seen as a season of lavish gifts, extravagant feasts, and meticulously planned gatherings. I’ve always struggled with being an overachiever, which means I’m a perfectionist. But, I’ve learned that in the pursuit of perfection, we often find ourselves overwhelmed, stressed, and disconnected from the real spirit of the occasion.

Anyone else love the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Clark Griswold’s goal was to have the perfect family Christmas. But every time he turned around, something else went wrong until he was definitely disconnected from the real spirit of the occasion. Kicking the plastic Santa display. Losing his temper (an understatement). Nearly driving everyone away. (Well…except for Eddie who claimed he was there until next month. Yikes!)

Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. I mean, who hasn’t had mashed potatoes that turned out lumpy, a turkey that was overdone, the perfect gift that wasn’t going to arrive until after Christmas, or family members that just couldn’t be in the same room no matter what (but you thought you’d try anyway)?

A friend of mine recently shared a story about her desire to have everything perfect for Christmas, from the decorations to the gifts. Including special cloth table cloths and napkins that had to have the perfect Christmas-themed napkin rings.

One year she decided to just “let it go,” and let me just say that the reaction from her family was a game-changer. Instead of everyone being stressed out and worried something would go wrong, they shared a wonderful Christmas filled with joy, laughter, and connection.

Christmas should not be synonymous with stress, anxiety, or worry. It’s a time for reflection, gratitude, and celebrating the values that truly matter – love, peace, kindness, and connection.

So, this Christmas, I thought I’d share with you what the season means to me. I’ll be honest. It’s changed over time. When I was young, I perfected the art of finding the wrapped presents, unwrapping them, and wrapping them again before Mom found out. Or did she know and just let it go? But now, here’s what it means to me.

Reflecting on the True Meaning

I believe the true meaning of Christmas is centered around the birth of God’s Son – Jesus Christ. It is about how he came to give us love, hope and joy. It’s a time for reflection and gratitude. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the blessings in our lives and express gratitude for the simple joys that often go unnoticed. When you take a moment to reflect on the values and principles that define this season for you personally (whether it’s faith, family, or a sense of community) and you can let these reflections guide your celebrations and actions, you’ll have less stress and more joy.

I’m definitely putting this into action this year because we decided last moment to get a new puppy! What were we thinking? Savannah Bouvier arrived a little over two weeks ago to join Alli Bouvier as our canine family members. I’ve always been a dog mom, so adding Savannah to our family and seeing Alli light up has been a blessing for sure (even though my house is trashed).

Gifts of the Heart

The most meaningful gifts don’t necessarily come wrapped in glittering paper and bows. They are the gifts of love, compassion, and understanding. (Good thing I’m not that little girl any more!)

This Christmas, consider extending acts of kindness to those around you. It could be a simple gesture like spending quality time with a loved one, volunteering at a local shelter (or animal shelter), or offering a listening ear to someone in need. These heartfelt gifts often leave a lasting impact and create cherished memories far beyond material possessions.

One of my gifts is to make homemade noodles for the turkey soup that always comes after a turkey dinner. It’s a labor of love and reminds me of my mom (who taught me how to make them). I can still see her sitting at the kitchen table making them with her fingers, rolling them out, and cutting them with kitchen scissors.

Embracing Peaceful Moments

Amidst the frenzy of the season, carving out moments of tranquility becomes vital. Take time to nurture your well-being by engaging in activities that bring you peace. Whether it’s practicing mindfulness through meditation, enjoying a quiet walk in nature, or indulging in a favorite hobby, these moments of serenity can restore balance and harmony during the bustling festivities. One of my fondest memories of living on the Oregon coast was taking a long walk on the beach on Christmas or New Year’s with my husband and visiting family (human and canine alike).

Fostering Meaningful Connections

While gatherings and feasts are part of the Christmas tradition, the true essence lies in the connections we have with others. Instead of getting entangled in the pressure of hosting the perfect party or preparing an extravagant meal, focus on fostering genuine connections with family and friends. Engage in heartfelt conversations, share stories, laughter, and create an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance. That’s what my friend did and she said it made all the difference in the world. And, that’s what Clark Griswold discovered too, right?

In essence, a peaceful Christmas isn’t about the grandeur of decorations or the number of gifts exchanged. It’s about embracing the simplicity, warmth, and genuine connections that define the holiday. By focusing on spreading love, peace, and joy, we can rediscover the true magic of Christmas and create a meaningful and fulfilling experience for ourselves and those around us.

Hit Reply and tell me what your fondest memories are of the holiday season. Do you have a gift for finding, unwrapping, and rewrapping your presents? Do you have a favorite recipe that is “all yours” and a gift you give others? Tell me all about it.