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Present Over Perfect This Christmas

I’m prone to stress and perfectionism year round. And if I’m not careful, it can go through the roof during the holiday season.

It’s coming from a good place, though. I just love Christmas so much. It’s my favorite holiday by far! I look forward to it all year, so I tend to heap piles of expectations on how it will go this year and try to top how it went last year.

I want to do allthethings to fully celebrate.

I want the tree up and the house fully decorated the instant Thanksgiving is over.

I want to throw a fun Christmas house party or find festive outfit to wear out to one.

I want to get photos done for Christmas cards that will go out by the first week of December.

I want to find the perfect gift for everyone on my list.

I want to bake cookies and build gingerbread houses.

I want to sip peppermint hot cocoa or some other similarly Christmas-y drink while looking at all the twinkly lights around town.

I want to finally go to a Midnight Mass.

I want to cook a traditional Christmas dinner that is Food Network ready.
I want Christmas carols blaring loud and proud through all of it.

I want to soak up every moment, every memory. I don’t want to miss a thing, after all Christmas only comes once a year. HO HO HO meets F.O.M.O.

Full disclosure, I have never once gotten all this done, or even half of it done, or even more than two things. I am naming this tendency to call myself out. Maybe you can relate. I declare I will not fall into this trap this Christmas.

Christmas isn’t about all the doing and the details. That’s what I made it about, in true American-consumer-culture style: MORE. I’m learning it’s actually about LESS.

I don’t want to get distracted by the logistics, the details, the polish and miss the point.

I don’t want to be a Martha, Stewart or biblical.

In the book of Luke we learn about Jesus’ friends Martha and Mary. When the sisters invited Jesus over for dinner, Mary spent her evening sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha was preoccupied being a hostess, worrying about the food, the doing and the details.

Martha was upset that she had to do all the work while her sister got to spend time with Jesus. That’s when Jesus said to her: “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details? There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42 NLT)

Don’t miss this point, as I have in so many years past. It’s straight from the source. The only thing worth being concerned about is getting close with Jesus, especially at Christmas.

I’m learning I can’t fully celebrate Christmas without spending some quality time with Jesus. What better way to celebrate the birth of my savior then by drawing nearer to Him for this season and keeping Him at the front and center of it all?

After dried up Fraser Fir trees line the curb sides, our bellies are swollen from decadent meals, and our bodies and minds are tired from the holiday hustle, will we still feel the Christmas spirit?

As one of my favorite authors and speakers Rick Warren says: “Don’t let Christmas pass without spending some time at Jesus’ feet. Long after everything else fades from this Christmas, worshipping Jesus is all that will truly last.”

I’m learning from Martha that I need to reduce the holiday stress and let go of the self-imposed pressure to try to do it all, and do it all perfectly. This Christmas season I’m choosing “present over perfect,” which happens to be the title of the book it had the biggest impact on my life this year. I’m taking a cue from Mary and intentionally spending time with Jesus.

I’m looking forward to trying this new (to me) approach to the holidays. I am dedicating the season to being mindfully present with Jesus, the ultimate Christmas present.

Lord, forgive me for all the times I’ve focused on the doing and the details instead of on You. I don’t want to miss the point of Christmas anymore. Help me to unlearn my bad holiday habits and instead learn how to spend more time with You. Help me to slow down and be more intentional in seeking You first this Christmas. Jesus, search and purify my heart until all I want for Christmas is You.


What are your favorite ways to spend time in Jesus’ presence at Christmas? What can you let go of to make more room for Jesus this Christmas?

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Erin L. Todd

Both a masterpiece and a Ginger In Progress simultaneously. Following Jesus not diets. Pursuing well-being not weight loss.

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