Last week I wrote about a concept of rest as doing good or a sense of satisfied peace. But what about rest in a more practical sense? Like not-going-crazy-from-parties-and-presents-and-planning-and-carols-and-overload rest?
It hardly needs to be pointed out that what brings peace and what gives life in the holiday season varies from person to person.
One of my dear friends lost her mom as a young adult, but a vivid memory was of her mother’s fervent celebration of holidays – high (Christmas, Easter, Birthdays) & low (St Patrick’s Day). For her, creating hoopla and catering to details (gifty, hosty, & otherwise) is a way to enjoy this time & honour her mom.
For me, the idea of taking a “break” to go to a spa sounds like a lot of organization & schedule planning that I would rather spend towards other activities. So, that prospect doesn’t relax me at all, while for others (most?) it would be a delight. On the other hand, hosting a brunch for 40 friends on Christmas Eve is something that brings me a great sense of peace & enjoyment!
So, your “rest” is not necessarily your neighbour’s, but here is a list of ideas for restful inspiration in the upcoming month:
Don't sweat missing out.
No, please don’t be impressed. It left me run down & exhausted and I spent most of December sick with a neverending cold.
For a socially inexhaustible extrovert (& raging FOMO), it was painful for me to say no to events, to stay home and rest, and to miss out while my husband & preschoolers had fun tobogganing and exploring.
But even when we were able to get out, we had a newborn! It was all very overwhelming, so mostly we just didn’t do anything. We didn't go to any Christmas-y local events, no Santa parades or lights tours. We hardly even left the house!
my kids still loved me. I still loved them, we enjoyed the season, and we still had an awesome Christmas. Yes, life is short and so is childhood. But if you don't make it to the Christmas train or whatever... it's ok. I promise. Sanity trumps tradition.
Ann Voskamp shared this analogy that in the rural country, where there is so little traffic, most of the time they do a rolling stop at a stop sign. She realized that living & working on a farm where there is Always. Work. To Do. they needed to not only do rolling stops in their work, but a FULL STOP.
For me, it is very easy to do a rolling stop, work-wise. To leave the office, but still chat about business strategy over dinner with my similarly entrepreneurial husband. To play with my kids but still take breaks to respond to a quick email from the bathroom or snap a photo to upload later. I love my work and it’s also very dependent on my nurturing care, so it’s easy to stay top of mind. But, I need to remember that it is not a real child, and it can be abandoned for a day!
Similarly, the more stressful holiday planning/shopping/festivities can take a full stop, too. As fun & festive as it all can be, don’t be afraid to take a day without ANY card writing, food making, or shopping. You can go to the grocery store or pharmacy without scanning for stocking stuffers. Full stop.
Go offline. My husband has been trying this one day a week (I’ve dabbled a bit) and after the initial jitters & failures, it really does unwind the need-to-know tensions of connectedness. A full day is ideal, but even if it is just for an afternoon of decorating or for a movie night, turning off the “ding” of notifications will be good for your soul.
If you are so inclined towards the “reason for the season”, don’t wait until the Christmas Eve church service. My friend put it best when she said, “Christmas Day was so much more relaxing when I wasn’t trying so hard to remind everyone (through piles of wrapping paper and new toys) about Jesus. We had already spent the month talking about the anticipation of Christ’s coming. By the 25th, they knew, and I didn’t feel the tension; I could just enjoy it.”
It can be as simple as lighting a daily or weekly candle, or involve daily activities or readings. Here are some resources (of the numerous).
A bit of planning & listing.
Sounds cliche, but planning & checklists are not overrated! Throughout November, I'm always trying to hold a bunch of ideas in my head of people/gifts/ideas/wish lists etc. And when I finally sit down and write everything out, it becomes much more manageable.
I write a list of every family member who needs a gift, every event that we’ll be attending (where I might want to bring something for the host), every teacher or service worker, every secret santa exchange. Then I write a list of ideas. Some ideas cover over many at once (did I mention that my pop up booth this weekend is next to fudge?).
This really doesn’t need to be a daunting “one more thing.” I literally did it the other day while my kids were splashing in the bath next to me.
I know, I know, I am an online store, of course I would say that!
But seriously, when there are blank spots on my list (see above), and when I’m not unplugged (see way above), I go to the internet. Lists! Pinterest! Facebook ads that worked on me! You can check things, go back, fill carts, compare ideas… all sitting down with a latte/eggnog/cocktail in your hand. If this is not restful, what is?
If the “fun” of the season is feeling tiring, going shopping in the throngs will most likely result in unhappiness (and probably more money spent that you wanted).
If shopping locally is important to you, just remember that online does not have to equal Amazon. There are thousands of fantastic small businesses (like mine) who do online sales as a way to limit overhead and expand their reach. As with any shopping, one bottom line question to ask yourself is, “Do I really want to give this store my money?”
Etsy also does a search by location so you can see which artisans are in your area and go from there.
Things accomplished by flyers in December:
No good can come of flyers in December! Throw them away.
Remember: No guilt! Just onwards. These are just ideas in a sea of ideas. Maybe it’s just that one evening at the party hosted by your best friend when you feel the peace of rest. Cherish it.