Simple Advent

2015-11-29 16.58.30My Mom is Mrs. Clause. She knew how Christmas should be done and she did it to the nines. This included (but was not limited to) decorations, gifts, food, lights. I loved it and when I married I tried to do the same. At first, I had it covered, but add in my work as a pastor, having a child, and the season of advent became burdensome and exhausting.

So how might we approach advent and Christmas in a lightweight and low maintenance way? Here are some of the things I have tried over the last five years.

Ask, “what is the most important thing I want to experience this holiday season?” Asking this simple question gets to the heart of the matter and moves us from what matters to others to what matters to me. While this might seem selfish, it is actually a question to help you create the life you want to live. Living in a lightweight and low maintenance lifestyle pushes us to take responsibility for our holiday season instead of just doing what we have always done or giving that responsibility to someone else. What matters to you?  Spend time there. 

Simplify gifts. Several recent Facebook posts have invited people to give only 4 gifts this year. The formula is: a book to read, something to wear, an item you need and one thing you want. I like this. You might want to adjust the formula but overall I think it is doable.

When I pastored a local church, I invited parents to give only 3 toys per child. This idea came from the number of gifts the Magi brought the child Jesus. Parents liked this since it was easy to say to a child, “Look, Jesus got three gifts and if it was enough for Jesus, it’s enough for you.”

Practice Your Faith. In the hustle of this time of the year it is easy to miss out on the deep spiritual significance of this time. As a pastor I remember how chagrined folks would be on a Sunday afternoon when, after skipping worship Sunday morning, they would run into me at Target. Yes, it is busy, but don’t miss out on the season’s deeper meaning.  The simple practice of lighting the advent candle as a family, reading a devotional and attending worship moves the season into a powerful place. Christmas has something to teach us about ourselves, our world and our God, don’t miss it because of shopping.

Christmas is a time to remember how blessed we are, no matter what our circumstances. My daily prayer to help me live into this is: “For what has been, for what is, for what will be, I am grateful.”   May you find this season to be one of wonder, light and love.


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