The normal to-do list is overwhelming. The holiday to-do list makes me wish for hospitalization or incarceration just to escape it. The truth is we all can escape it by cultivating an interior life of wholeness. In my opinion, wholeness is a slow lifelong practice of facing every aspect of our lives – thoughts, emotions, actions, attitudes and relationships – in light of God’s love, truth and who He made us to be. Wholeness brings a sense of being internally rooted in your true self and grounded in God. Since I can’t sustain the “feeling” of wholeness for extended periods of time, all I can do is practice; that alone helps me stand against the tide of frenetic seasons like Christmas 2016. Let’s re-examine this adored, yet over-commercialized holiday, in light of seeking wholeness.

Advertisers make me sad. I observe my four-year-old watching commercials with rapt attention, mouth agape, and I actually see the words forming on her lips: “Can I have thaaaat!?” My eight-year-old has repeatedly been schooled by the ingenious people that have studied how to “catch” our eye, excite our hope for happiness, and manipulate us into believing they have just the thing for us. Marketers have found a gold mine: trends, boredom, wear and tear all quickly cause the new shine to fade, and just when we’re on the verge of wondering if there’s another way to feel filled up inside – it’s the next season! And we readily line up for our next dose of new.

The ultimate solution? Ceasing to buy-in. Exiting the matrix. And instead, drawing our precious energy inward; to the seat of God within us, where our soul, our truest selves reside. This nourishing place is always there waiting. It fuels our discontent with lesser things simply by existing. It alone possesses peace, sanctity and wholeness in the disparate chaos around us. From this inner vantage point, we are better able to clearly discern for ourselves and our families what is truly life-giving this Christmas, in spite of what the rest of the crowd is doing.

Be willing to slow down, quiet yourself and question why you do what you do at Christmas? Examine the activities you feel compelled to do: traveling, baking, decorating, purchasing large gifts or thousands of tiny ones, attending parties or creating those “essential” childhood experiences. Offer them up to God in prayer and surrender each one of them with an open hand – “not my will but yours be done.” Work to intentionally discern how you should spend your limited time, sanity and resources this Advent season. Bravely experiment with doing less and see if you actually feel a loss. Spend more time drawing your family inward: resting, playing, eating and being together.

The Christian practices of waiting, surrendering, simplicity and acceptance promote our sense of wholeness – talk about Christmas self-care! What could be more restful than a heart at peace in spite of the chaos? And these days, a person with even a hint of wholeness in their being brings an air of substance, gravity and peace with them wherever they go. Let’s stand up to the norm this year and try to get a little closer to the best gifts God has for us this Christmas season.

Kelley Gray has been a private practice psychotherapist in the Denver area for 14 years. She is passionate about promoting growth, healing and making messes with her daughters.