There are many great opportunities to show up for others over the holiday season. From harvest parties to Christmas service projects, to activity performances, there are almost too many options.
One year, our MOPS group planned a Christmas party for our local womens’ shelter. That same week, I received a phone call looking for donations for the local food bank; our church volunteer leader asked for extra childcare workers to show up for extra services; my family arrived for a two-week visit, and my children wanted to go shopping for gifts for every person they ever knew. There was no way I could show up to all of that and come out unfrazzled!
I’ll let you in on a secret: YOU get to decide what to participate in and what to say “no” to. You get to decide where to serve, where to give, where to show up. But how do you make those choices?
Right now, think about what your capacity is and make some decisions. What is your limiting factor? Do you have kids that need to be in bed by 7:30 p.m. or need their afternoon nap? Then, you can turn down things that interfere with those. You can decide on a budget you are willing to spend and choose activities that don’t exceed it. The Christmas party our MOPS group did was during our normal MOPS meeting time, so I knew it fit with my kids’ nap schedule. We had a sign up for items to contribute, so I could choose something within my budget. I could show up and still maintain boundaries and my own sanity.
Small Things Have a Big Impact.
I am a very organized person, but I am really bad at meal planning. I don’t understand how I still struggle to remember that we eat three meals every day, seven days a week. Somehow, I am still shocked when it comes to dinner on a Thursday night. I also have a desire to show love to my neighbors during the holidays. In our family, we pick one weekend and make a huge batch of cinnamon rolls. Several family members work on the recipe while others make tags for each of the disposable pans spread out on the dining room table waiting to be filled. We take breakfast to neighbors on a random day of the week because I can’t be the only one that loves to have someone else cook a meal. It is just a small gesture, but it has provided an opportunity to get to know people we usually just wave to.
I easily get caught up in my to-do list over the holidays. I have an agenda to keep. But I am reminded that Jesus stopped to sit with people. He noticed people that were often overlooked. He took time to listen to children. Things still happened – fish were caught, people were fed, sick were healed. But he took time to listen and really see people. May we be people this season that look for people. Let’s look the cashier in the eyes when we talk to him. Let’s really listen to the answer after we ask, “How are you?” Let’s read another bedtime story, drive around the block one more time to look at the lights, and hold hands with those we love.
Know what matters and show up for those things! At the end of this season, let’s have good memories, not just a list of things we have accomplished.