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SALT LAKE CITY — With December in full swing, we can feel overwhelmed at the sudden time crunch to get things done. However, as we focus and simplify, we can de-clutter the unnecessary and keep the meaningful.
In a prior column I shared about choosing a holiday feeling focus by using words to describe the way you want to experience your holiday season such as peaceful, joyful, or memorable. Once that’s decided, adding the most meaningful activities to keep the feeling is a cinch.
Carolyn J. Rasmus says in her book "Simplify," “To simplify is about enhancing our ability to focus on things that really matter, to deliberately choose our priorities, and to refuse to let unimportant things take over the things of real importance.”
What is of real importance to you and your family? Perhaps you can find out through a family night where you pose the question to each family member: What is the one keeper experience that would make this Christmas meaningful?
When we did this very thing, I was surprised at the simplicity of the answers (and lack of mentioned electronics) that included doing Secret Santa service, building a snow fort, and “having a ton of good food.”
To simplify is about enhancing our ability to focus on things that really matter, to deliberately choose our priorities, and to refuse to let unimportant things take over the things of real importance.
–Carolyn J. Rasmus, author
Simplifying the details is another way to make the season meaningful. Consider some typical major to-do categories: events, gift-giving, food, travel, etc. Choose one category then within it — the one holiday task that feels overwhelming. Consider the appropriate energy to task: "How much energy does it require?" instead of "How much you would typically apply?"
Without putting on a show, but instead creating memories, how can you simplify it and still create the feeling you desire?
Lastly, focus on the reason for the season. Amongst the variety of religious celebrations during this time of the year, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Weaving some thread of spiritual focus through your celebrations definitely makes a more fulfilling and bonding experience with family and friends.
Many cultures remember Christ's birth in wonderfully unique ways. In Greece, they eat christopsomo, or “Christ Bread.” The crusts of large sweet, various shaped loaves are decorated in unique ways that denote the family's profession.
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As a child I lived in Scotland, where the day after Christmas is called “Boxing Day.” Years ago, people donated to the poor through church alms boxes. On Dec. 26, in similitude of the Savior’s service, the boxes were distributed to the poor. Nowadays, people often give small monetary gifts to their mail carrier or news vendor.
For our family, we’ve done a variety of things to focus on Christ. Like many families, we read and attempt to act out the Nativity scene, learn his words, help with charities and projects, and share at the dinner table about our “Daily Do,” which is a spontaneous service. No matter the specifics, the more you involve Jesus Christ throughout the season in a personally meaningful way, the more deeply fulfilling it will be.
Find the ways that work for your family to create a more meaningful Christmas, and you will experience a memorable holiday season.
Connie Sokol is an author, speaker, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at www.conniesokol.com.