treeChristmas in October?!

“Ahhhww!…” I couldn’t stop the audible groan. “I can’t believe it.”

“What?” my son riding shotgun looks up.

“Christmas lights. Already. Up and on!” We were on our way to pick up his brother from practice.

“Wow,” even he was taken aback. “Has Halloween even happened?”

“I don’t think so,” I reply, wondering. We didn’t forget – did we? I had to question. But realized that no – we did not miss it. But yes, this weekend is the last week of October.

Looking at those lights made my head hurt. “I already need an extra week.”

But since the year never doles out extra days, I’ve got to find a way to manage the onslaught of stuff without letting it take away from all that’s good and right with upcoming celebrations. So maybe I can see those lights and not groan under the weight of what feels like a long list of to-do’s with little time to do them, but sink into the beauty of the lights and what they celebrate.

It’s time to start hydrating for the holidays – kind of like a race to stay sane. And, if I was planning on running a marathon sometime in the near future, I would train – and hydrate. Because, as any athlete knows, by the time you feel thirsty – it’s too late.

Why not apply the same rules to soul-hydration. Because the holidays with all its rushing and buying and decorating and preparing and … so much more – the soul can get a bit bruised by all the pressures, many of which are fueled by comparison.

Dare we admit – it’s hard to get those holiday cards and letters without a little wondering why life seems to be going smoothly for everyone else. It can be deflating to see posted pics of holiday parties, attire, décor, meals, … (thank you Pinterest, HGTV, Barefoot Contessa – we love you guys, but you’ve made it a teensy bit hard have people over :) without a little mental assessment to see if we’ve hit the mark or fallen short. And let’s not even go to body image issues. Nothing like putting on a dress that hasn’t seen outside the closet in a year. Will it zip or not zip? (eek, scary-question alert!)

Why would we let a zipper or a Christmas card or a posted pic play with self-worth? Those things have nothing on us as a person. But If I’m not ready and fully hydrated, I might be tricked in to thinking they do – and maybe hit the wall the before Christmas even gets here.

So here are a few strategies we’re – and by we, I mean my kids too – plan to implement. The kids need to be mentally/spiritually fit to be able navigate being left out of a party, to open gifts from under the tree that may or may not meet their expectations (though I’ve learned that underwear understandable falls miserably short in the gift category – in my defense, it was super cute), and even to embrace the lacking of holiday décor on the outside of their home.

You’d think after all the years of décor disappointment, they wouldn’t care. But, one of them still holds out hope that their dad will splurge for lights done by a professional. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I’m the light guy – and I agree, my effort deserves a C/C+. But I consider it one of my missionary efforts. Without our house and its Charlie Brown Christmas tree lighting, the other houses on our block would never look so lovely. We have our front-yard tree (there are more, but I only strand one) lit only as high as I can reach while standing on a chair. It provides an opportunity for everyone else to feel good about themselves. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

Here’s the plan. It’s good for me to write it down. Then you can hold me accountable. Over the next few weeks we’ll be hydrating by practicing the meaning of the holidays. Join me for the ride. I’m calling it #hydratefortheholidays. It started today – in my office, with a major declutter. I even pulled out the stack of Christmas cards from last year that I put in this box:


(along with some other mail – eeek! What is wrong with me?!)

Then maybe those addresses can finally be added on my computer – a paid job for one of my kids – BEFORE I need them.

The simple, yet slightly time-consuming, act of decluttering of one of the spaces in our home has not only made me physically feel better, but has already lightened the stress load that tempts us to think it only has one way to go – UP.

#Hydratefortheholidays will include such themes as:

  • A Gratitude Attitude. Seriously. Is it any wonder that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas?
  • The Dial-Down. This will include a fun activity I discussed with a group of moms just last week: a freedom-to-use-paper-goods (even mis-matched leftovers from days gone by) Holiday Pop-up-Party … putting into action the fact that no one cares what’s served, they just like being included.
  • Pic-Behind-the-Pic – because we all know the effort that goes into those Christmas card photos. Why not share?
  • Silent-Servant (this one could be tricky, but I really want the kids/me to serve without any documentation for community hours, or pic-posting, or… )

I’ll share our adventure of our training/hyrdrating effort over the next several weeks. All in hopes of lightening everyone’s load. We really are all in it together – and why not? These are some of the very most special holidays right around the corner.

And we’ll tap friends like Courtney DeFeo to share her Light ‘Em Up effort – super cool effort to love the folks with whom we cross paths but sometimes fail to see; and Mimi Gilliland for fun gift ideas that give back, and even revisit Julie Hildebrand’s New Year Resolution she shared with us before: a Dare-to-Not-Compare. After all the training we’ve put in via #hydratefortheholidays – it should be a natural progression :)

For the sake of the season, let’s take a vacation from words like could, would, should, enough, measuring up, and such. Forget about the stresses. Instead let’s look beyond the Turkey and Christmas décor and lean into the words that describe their purpose: Thankfulness, Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men.

Maybe the real holiday comes when we focus less on getting, more on giving, Less on doing, more on being. Less on self, more on others.

Thanks for walking the road with me. To be continued….


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