The pursuit of wonder doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. This Christmas season, let go of unnecessary time and money pressures in your quest for wonderful holidays. Wonder is waiting for you to discover it in unrushed, simple, and even surprising moments this holiday season. So, break free of holiday stress this year. Here are 3 ideas for how to find Christmas wonder without straining your schedule or budget:
Celebrate creatively with lights and music. God has designed our universe to operate with light waves and sound waves embedded throughout its fabric. When light and sound inspire us with wonder, our perception changes, and we can see “in a different light” and “sing a different tune” as those expressions of change say. Christmas lights inspire awe. You can drive around to look at Christmas lights, or even simply light a candle, and meditate on how Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12) and how Jesus encourages you to use our own God-given light to shine in the world through good deeds (Matthew 5:14). When you need encouragement, just take a flashlight into a dark room and turn it on. Notice how even a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness, but darkness cannot dispel light. This same principle applies spiritually, as the light of hope from God is always stronger than the darkness of discouragement in our fallen world. All music – including Christmas music – can communicate in ways that go beyond words, helping you become more aware of God’s presence with you. You don’t have to wait for a Christmas concert or formal worship service to find wonder through music this season. Anytime and anywhere, you can use music to praise God on the go. Some routines to consider: singing to God in the shower, chanting your prayers or playing a musical instrument during morning devotions, listening to worship music while you’re working or doing chores and errands, and relaxing with music before bedtime while thanking God for answered prayers.
Add portions of wonder to your meals. Rather than stress over holiday food, cook and bake only in ways that truly bring you joy. Feel free to let go of traditions that you don’t really enjoy, such as baking huge batches of Christmas cookies out of a sense of obligation, or cooking formal dinners with foods that your family doesn’t actually like. Instead, have fun refreshing your Christmas season meals in simple ways that spark your creativity – without the pressure of trying to impress anyone. You could add Christmas cookies to your breakfasts, along with healthy cereal or oatmeal. Or, you could drink eggnog with dinner for an easy dash of holiday cheer. If there are holiday recipes you want to make, take the pressure off by doing so on a weekend when you don’t need to rush, and then freeze those meals for weekday dinners. In Wake Up to Wonder, I include a chapter on how to wake up your physical senses to enjoy more spiritual wonder. Preparing and eating food is a great opportunity to engage your senses fully and discover wonder along the way.
Choose just one service project, build relationships from it, and plan to continue. You’ll be inundated by requests to volunteer your time this Christmas season. But you can have the most significant positive impact – and encounter the most wonder – by choosing only the one that is most meaningful for you. Don’t stress yourself out by dividing your limited time and energy among lots of one-time service projects. Instead, focus on one where you can build ongoing relationships with the people you’re serving beyond the holiday season. Ask God to lead you to the best service project: one that will give you opportunities to use the talents he has given you to help meet needs that are close to your heart.
I hope you and your loved ones enjoy a Christmas with minimum stress and maximum wonder!