Now I know some of you have had your tree up since Halloween, and others of you won't have yours up until Christmas Eve. There is not right or wrong time to deck your halls, however, this email is to help you make sure that as you deck your halls, that you deck them with purpose, leaving frustration at the door.

One year, my family bought our Christmas tree on the way home from church on Christmas Eve night! Yes! We sure did. My mother didn't even want to get one, but being the sentimental child I was, I insisted, so my father and I went to the Christmas tree lot by the Exxon station at the corner of Mountain Industrial Blvd and Hugh Howell outside of Atlanta and bought the second to last tree on the lot - and boy, was she a beaut, Clark! You can only imagine how crooked and baren this little tree was, but we decorated it and it had become a wonderful memory.

Another year, I begged to keep the Christmas tree up for my birthday which is on January 5th. My parents were so kind to humor my request. By the time 1/5 came around, the needles were brown an making a giant mess on the floor, but again, it was a wonderful memory to me that I was heard and understood. Having a birthday so close to Christmas isn't always fun as a child!

As a married adult, Wade and I have adopted various traditions like the whole family opening a new set of pajamas the night before Christmas, decorating gingerbread houses and baking Christmas cookies together.

What I have found in my 15+ years decorating on my own is things can get carried away quickly.

  • The multitude of lights become tangled in one big knot.

  • The garland follows suite with the lights...

  • You can't find that one last suction cup to adhear the last wreath to your window

  • The Christmas tree trunk is much more cooked than it looked when you picked it up and it keeps falling down... and Joseph keeps losing his head (I speak from experience here)

  • Every year there seems to be more and more and more STUFF...

All of this can lead to high frustration, short fuses, unkind words, missing sleep which totally goes against the reason for the season. I know y'all feel me here...

So how can we stop this cycle and enter into a process of simple shifts for decking our halls with purpose? I've got a list and some scripture to help you do just this:

  • Traditions - make a list of all of the traditional decorations that are a non-negotiable to put up.

  • Family Affair - make a list of which decorations you want to put up as a family. Some great options are trimming the tree, hanging lights on trees outside, putting out the nativity scene.

  • Build in time - don't decorate on a whim. Make intentional time to decorate where you can put everything else down and fully be present with decorating and with your family.

  • Build in MORE time - if children are involved in the process, you will want to build in buffer time. It WILL take more time than you think.

  • Think about it - what's your end goal with decorating? Is it to be the best dressed home on the block or is it to be reminded of wonderful memories of Christmases gone by while making new memories? Is it about rushing through to check it off your list, or is it about slowing down, savoring the season and talking about the decorations as you put them up.

And to help you entertain your children while you organize all the things... or just to have some extra activities to do on the road traveling to and fro this season, I have complied 60 pages of activities for children ages 5 to around 11. Print this out, stick it in a binder with a fresh pack of colored pencils and use it often to keep little hands busy and grown hearts calm and collected. Click here to access the booklet

In His Mercy,

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