When You Are Weighed Down by “Getting It Right” At Christmas



I ran upstairs to get dressed “real quick”. Fifteen minutes later, I had a pile of clothes on my closet floor I’d tried that didn’t work. I ran through scenarios in my head. The temps would start out cold, then get warmer. I kept saying to myself, “I have nothing to wear.” This was a lie. The bigger issue is that I had too much to choose from. I just didn’t like much of what I chose from and spent too much time trying to make the perfect choice. I was weighed down by the pressure of making the perfect outfit selection.

I was meeting a friend for breakfast. Other than that, I’d be home working. Grab the kids from school, play outside hopefully, possibly see another human being other than my kids. So why in the world did it take me 15 minutes to find something to wear?

It didn’t stop there. I then had to hang up all the clothes I’d thrown on the floor, then wash my face and put on makeup. Forget the shower, I’d run out of time.

My “run upstairs to get dressed real quick” ended up taking 30 minutes- what should have taken 5 minutes. Too many choices and my desire to make the best choice tilted my morning routine.

At this point, I am now rushing, which makes me snippy with my boys. All because I had too many choices and couldn’t make a simple decision.

Christmas isn’t only complicated because of what the world does to Christmas, it’s become complicated because what we have done to it as well.

We have more choices than we can manage for how to have an intentional Christmas. Get on Pinterest, type in some key words, and you will spend hours trying to determine which one is the very best.

Stop in the Christian bookstore, and you will find no shortage of advent books and activities. Talk to a few friends to find out what they do. People become pretty passionate about what they do with their family and are convinced it is the very best choice. And it very well may be. For them.

Here’s the thing. Too many choices, too much clutter, and we freeze. We have a hard time just grabbing something and going with it. We have a hard time blocking out the noise of what everyone else is doing and finding joy in what we are doing. 

What makes Christmas special in each home will look drastically different from home to home. Sometimes it is the simplest acts, the smallest of traditions that make the biggest imprint in the heart of a family.

In our home, there are a few traditions we do every year, but we have learned to change as our children have grown. Traditions are vital to a family, but traditions can still be a tradition and change shape at the same time.



Seeking Christmas has been a tradition for the last 6 years. It is one that I’ve loved for its simplicity and flexibility. It doesn’t add so much that we become bogged down in choices and activity. In the simplest of ways, we celebrate the Savior, who offered the simplest, yet most elaborate gift the world has ever seen.

Our boys are getting older, Seeking Christmas gives us room to go deeper now and build on the foundation we’ve been laying. This year, I stumbled upon something we are adding to Seeking Christmas that adds no more stress, no more activity, no more clutter. It adds another layer to understanding the gift of our Savior. And it works in perfect harmony with our Seeking Christmas tradition.

I’m sharing not to overwhelm you in more choices when you already have plenty to pull from. I’m sharing because for our family who seeks simplicity so we can enjoy what truly matters, this has been a gift.


Seeking Christmas began in our home when our boys were little. We had 7 ornaments that told the Christmas story. Each night we’d hide an ornament and send them on a hide and seek adventure. Their faces would light up when they found the ornament, and we would read the devotion together. As they’ve grown, they still race to find the hidden ornament. As they’ve grown, they take greater part in the advent activity. Now they read to the family. Now they answer questions with enthusiasm, now they write in the journal as well so we have a record of the years.

This year I discovered Ever Thine Home. I wasn’t looking for anything to add to advent or to our Christmas tradition list. But when I stumbled upon it, it was clear that this is something that would bless our family.

I love everything about their purpose and their products. They have something that goes along with Seeking Christmas so beautifully, so I’m excited to add to our tradition list this year. Simply.


7 Savior Names ornaments. And a tiny little booklet to accompany.


They also have 7 Christmas Names ornaments, which are gorgeous as well.

For our family, we are already hiding and finding an ornament with Seeking Christmas. Now we can hide and find 2 ornaments. The reading is so brief that it adds only a minute or two to the time. It adds no more complication, only another layer of the beauty of His story.

This year I’ve been having my own secret tradition. In the quiet morning hours, I’m Seeking Christmas alone. I’m studying His names alone. All these years, I’ve reserved these readings for times only with my family, but this year I’m enjoying this private time of devotion as well.

And here is one more resource your family may love. It’s one of our favorite books. One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham.


This book tells the Christmas story from the beginning of time. How God was always putting into motion a plan to save us. The story is told in such a way that the kids are drawn in and held by her words and the illustration. It’s beautiful.

Again, this isn’t one more thing to try to squeeze in. It’s just a simple way to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a long book, so we enjoy reading it over several day. I read it while the boys are eating breakfast in the morning.

By now, you know that for me, simplicity is key. I’m drawn to simple ways to communicate truth. Simple ways of doing life. I feel that the less clutter we add, the more the gifts of life shine through.

This is true at Christmas as well. Sometimes it’s the simpler traditions, the simpler activities, that shine the brightest in our season.

Sometimes it helps when we just make our choice and go with it. Even if it’s not the “perfect” choice. We prevent ourselves from getting weighed down in a sea of too much to choose from in an effort to make the perfect selection.

It’s Jesus. And it’s the heart of your family that will make any tradition you choose beautiful. It won’t look like anyone else’s. But it was never intended to.

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25 Advent Calendar Days Of Memories and Experiences


The Christmas season blows in hard doesn’t it?  We feel behind before it ever begins. When the season actually arrives…like right now, even though it’s only the beginning of November….if we aren’t intentional in our planning, we will find ourselves feeling little joy and much stress.

We want to create memories for our families. But does that sometimes feel like one more to-do? Do we feel the pressure of adorable Pinterest pins and Facebook posts of our friends who have teams of elves entering their homes every single night making Christmas magical? Do we wonder if we are making Christmas special enough?

I’ve found a secret to fighting this type of Christmas stress.


With our advent calendar, we have simplified our Christmas, while making our season more meaningful and intentional. It only takes a little extra planning the first year, then each year that follows, you will thank yourself for making your holiday less stressful and more memorable.

My kids love an advent calendar. They love opening the doors and counting down the days until Christmas. I love it too, and I thought, why can’t we use our advent calendar to create memories, to experience times of togetherness, and to do some of the things on our Christmas to-do list or Christmas bucket list?

Do you remember this post where I listed 18 ways your family can serve others at Christmas? Well, using an advent calendar is a great way to make sure your service projects actually happen. Also, each day in Seeking Christmas, there is an activity that ties into the lesson. When I know the days we will be doing those lessons/activities, I put that in the advent calendar. For me it is accomplishing 2 things at once by simplifying. But it is also about becoming intentional with the fleeting moments of Christmas. Intentional to spend time together, to create memories, to experience moments together, and to serve others.

It’s easy for an advent calendar to become just one more ways kids are given a message that it’s all about them. It could potentially be one more way they run to see what they get that day as they countdown to the day they get even more. It doesn’t have to be that way. Kids love time together. Kids love the surprise of opening the door. Kids will cherish these memories. And one day, they will have a heart that thinks a little more of others and a little less of themselves. We pray, right??

So here is the list we use in our house. Many days I duplicate activities. I usually have several days that the activity is reading a Christmas story together, or watching a movie, or enjoying a cup of hot chocolate together. Don’t feel the pressure to come up with 25 different activities. Some activities will want to be repeated. This list is to give you ideas. I left off many that you might want to include for your family, such as going to a tree farm or decorating the tree.

To simplify even further, I got Christmas card stock, used a gift tag punch, and created these advent activities to use each year. Now I don’t have to think about it. I just pull it out with our other Christmas decorations. And like any tradition, my kids anticipate what lies behind those doors.

25 Advent Days of Memories and Experiences

1-Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate together

2-Enjoy a Christmas movie together

3-Look at Christmas lights

4-Be a secret santa to someone

5- Make cookies

6-Random act of kindness

7-Christmas craft

8- Bless someone in some small way

9-Enjoy a candy cane

10-Sibling exchange shopping

11- Gingerbread houses

12 -Make ornament

13- Choose a Christmas book (we keep a shelf of Christmas books that only come out once a year.)

14 – Family service project

15 – Write a Christmas poem or story together (we do this every year and I love looking back at what my kids have written)

16 – Wrap gifts (you do this anyway, so make a memory and have some fun with it!)

17 – Write a Christmas letter to someone (compassion child, a relative,a friend)

18 – Choose your activity (each person can choose an activity…a story, movie, etc)

19 – Christmas outing (ice skating, a local town parade or festival, etc)

20 – Christmas scavenger hunt

21 – Make a Christmas blessings list (where today did you see hope, love, peace, and joy?)

22 -Christmas campout- Set up sleeping bags under the Christmas tree, watch movies, make popcorn and indoor s’mores, and snuggle up for an indoor campout under the lights.

23 -Prepare, create, wrap teacher/friend gifts.

24- Christmas Eve church service

25 – Jesus was born – our greatest gift ever (we have a tiny porcelain baby Jesus that fits in our Advent house)

Additional ideas we have used :

  • a surprise gift – a small something you have chosen for each person
  • call someone to simply say I’m thinking of you and Merry Christmas
  • Birthday Party for Jesus
  • Special Christmas programs, performances, or musicals you plan to attend


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