Proverbs 20:4 The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.
In the Christmas season, there is a lot demanding our attention: lists to be made, parties to attend, packages to buy, and food to prepare. The more I can intentionally be prepared, the more present I am for my friends and family. Here is what I have on hand, so when I most need it, I am ready.
1. Be ready for fun. This means having a basket with a few games, since my family loves games. Near the couch sits a basket with a few decks of cards and two games we are trying this season- Jeff Foxworthy’s Relative Insanity and the newly-released How Well Do You Know Your Family? They are both easy for groups of any size and facilitate laughter and connection. For your family, it might be gift cards to desired activities or movies you have waited to enjoy together. However you experience being together, make sure you have what you need.
2. Be ready for outreach and service. I want to know this month that we thought about more than just ourselves. This means having an extra meal on hand we can share with a neighbor as an outreach. I also carry pre-made large Ziplocs in the car with supplies to stay warm and food for the homeless. In addition, I try to have at least one activity on the calendar where we are volunteering at church or with a local non-profit.
3. Be ready for food (extra food and cookie dough). I want to be ready in a moment’s notice to extend an invitation to break bread over fellowship. This time of year I make cookie dough that’s just ready to be rolled out and soups or other meals that I’ve frozen. This way extra dollars aren’t spent on carry-out and I can sincerely offer for someone to stay over for a meal. It takes a little more planning, but I am always grateful when I need it.
4. Be ready for conversation (cards). I keep on my table all year-round conversation cards that spark new directions for us as a family when we sit down together. This time of year, I look online for free downloadable versions that are holiday-oriented and hope as we share a meal, we are also sharing our ideas, thoughts, feelings, and dreams. (Family Christian offers a free download of 8 questions or you can purchase 96 Conversation Starters for Families here.)
5. Be ready for generosity. This takes self-control and planning, but we have a generosity fund that I know is available for me to use. It keeps me alert to the needs around me in a time when it’s easy to become self-absorbed. I am always grateful when I can respond without hesitation because I’ve created financial margin.
6. Be ready for rest. It can be easy to think there’s always room for one more thing: a Christmas party, another trip to the mall, a yearly coffee catch up, but the truth is we are often already stretched this month. If I can put off that coffee until January, buy the gift online instead, and send my regrets to functions I don’t have to be there for, than I will thank myself when Christmas day actually arrives and I have margin to thoughtfully engage with my family.
We are stewards of our time, bodies, and resources and this month can tax us as we consider everything to be exceptions. If we aren’t intentional, January will come and we’ll be in debt, exhausted, or disappointed. I am purposing to give myself a fun, peaceful, meaningful, restful holiday season and that starts with a plan and an honest conversation about what I can do and need to do this month.