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  1. Sara Mirtaheri says:

    Dear Monica,

    I am on the same journey as you. I found during the holidays I would feel a huge amount of stress and anxiety over all of the stuff I needed to do. This year, I took a step back and decided the stuff would have to wait. As you may recall, I am a kindergarten teacher at a Christian school, I have 19 kiddos and they need me along with their parents. I am also the mother of a wonderful son. I was missing the meaning of what Christmas was for me. I needed God to speak to me and I responded. This year I chose to relax, stop trying to impress friends who are not worth it, live for every moment, and celebrate the little things. I am not buying my extended family presents, this year I opted for money instead, they won’t like it but I won’t need to shop. For my family, my husband and I are celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary. He is my soul gift. My son will get the three things he asked for, and me? I’ll get to curl up to me husband and middle schooler to enjoy some Polar Express and hot chocolate. Now that’s simple,meaningful, and needed. May you have a Merry Christmas Minica. Thank you for bringing a little North Shore to my Missouri home.

    1. Thank you Sara,
      Absolutely beautiful and on-target! Love your story, thank you for inspiring me and others. 😉
      Aloha to you and Mele Kalikimaka!

  2. Enjoying your, once again, insightful angle: choosing between good and better; to add my own little perspective for Advent, I often ask myself: Is this (activity, moment, decision, request) leading me closer or further from Jesus. Just thought I’d share the perspective to help others be in tune with the reason for the busy season! Thanks, Grommom!

    1. absolutely well said!! Thank you Kris! Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka!

  3. This year we said no to baking for neighbors ( a yearly event) and sent over a plant and card instead. But, I said yes to handwritten notes on our holiday cards. We are saying no to ornaments on the tree as our recently adopted dog adjusts. I will keep thinking about good and better. Thanks!

    1. Great examples!! Thank you Shannon! Mele Kalikimaka! 🙂

  4. I learn the better choice my husband and I made this year was to plan a late January vacation as our Christmas gift to our kids and skip the shopping for items on a list. They will still be surprised and pleased on Christmas morning and I will not be stressed. We also opted out of extended family giving and instead give small tokens (homemade treats) with notes about donations made in the family name chosen by our kids.

  5. There are so many great and fun things to do during this season! But if I try to jam them all in it gets nuts. And mama gets grinchy. So we had a family pow wow and I asked the kids what their favorite traditions were. They named about three things they remembered from past years so that’s what I think mattered most. We are sticking to those things and letting the rest slide. I’m already feeling less anxious. 1. Birthday cake for Jesus for breakfast Christmas morning. 2. PoP popcorn and wear pjs while driving around looking at lights. 3. Decorate for Christmas and watch polar express that night. I also realized they don’t care much for making the cookies only decorating them. So I did ready made dough, cut them myself and baked and set up a decorating table. Perfect for us!

    1. Brilliant! Love it all Paige! So wise to narrow it down to the favorites– I think I’ll do that here too! 🙂 Thank you.

  6. Monica ~ This so reminds me of days gone by. Our grandchildren are all adults, and our great grandchildren the ages of yours. I so remember trying to search for the better with four little ones, working, and being a Pastor’s wife…but learning to say NO to the right things is so very important. I hope all the young women who read your blog will take this to heart. It’s OK to say NO so that you be the best to your family and yourself.]

    Love reading the life of a young mom who loves her family and her Lord. Merry Christmas.

    1. Thank you so much Wanda…Your words are so encouraging! I hope you’ve had a very Merry Christmas as well! Aloha

  7. Ok, 2 of the 3 quiz items apply to me.
    Some betters on my part…
    We chose to wrap gifts for my nieces and nephews in one package per child, instead of each item separately. Not as pretty, but time to have tea and a chat with my husband.

    I felt the need to reciprocate some playdates that are hard to have while we both work. Instead of cleaning my house before and after the playdate, we decided to use a gift card I received to a local bowling alley and allow each of my guys to invite 3 friends bowling. We will pick up and drop off, but won’t have to clean!

    I skipped a dinner at my parents’ to attend a small gathering for a friend’s birthday! I enjoyed every moment and felt blessed that my husband and boys had fun with the family while I enjoyed time away.

    We were scheduled to see the zoo lights downtown tonight. Instead of going out in the rain, we are having a game night and eating homemade chicken soup with reindeer shaped noodles. The lights will be there next year and we are warm and dry!

    1. Shannon–You did it again! Nailed every single one! Love your examples! Thank you for sharing. Keep it up and you’ll have the very best Holiday season!

  8. I sooo love your blog and this post. I have surprisingly stuck to my “less” Christmas this year. I let go of the Christmas card family picture and the ordering, addressing and mailing 100 cards. I limited the amount of money we spent on the kids (and stuck to it) this year. I said no to Christmas baking but yes to opening my home to friends a couple of times. It’s been a nice balance and a season where our focus is on Christ (along with crazy excitement about Christmas). The funny thing is that I almost “feel” like I am doing something wrong because everyone is so “overwhelmed and busy”. Thank you for the reminder of choosing the best!

  9. Cena Hamby says:

    If only you would have written this three weeks ago!

  10. Thanks for this post! I need to remember this “good ” “better” choice all through the year. I have a habit of stressing and rushing-and then ultimately forgetting something or getting rebellion back from my kids. We have been more intentional this year about observing the reason for the season and it has helped. I still have cookies, brunch and Christmas dinner to make but if I focus on the Reason it’ll be great!

  11. You are right. There are so many choices between good things and best things. It’s tough. We had a very stressful beginning to the month losing my grandmother in a house fire. It actually made it a lot easier to just start marking things off the list. Every event comes with something I have to do or make. I just couldn’t handle it this year and my perspective on what’s important became very clear. I just ran lines through a lot and let it go in favor of staying home and hanging out with my guys or drinking coffee and looking at the Christmas tree. I asked my boys what was the one thing they love the most we do during Christmas and we only committed to those two things. They chose going out to see Christmas lights in their pjs and eating birthday cake Christmas morning for Jesus birthday. Everything else was let go. It has been very freeing and way more relaxing.
    Monica I hope you and your guys have a wonderful Christmas this week. Thanks for sharing your heart!

    1. Paige–First of all, I am so sorry for such a tragedy with your grandmother. I cannot even imagine how terrible that must be. 🙁
      But indeed–these things always give us the clearest perspective and I am so glad that you’ve been freed up to be intentional and enjoying your family. God bless you and I hope that Christmas turns out to be wonderful. 🙂