I’ve been drawn to simple for quite some time. I err on the side of minimalist. But somehow it feels like Christmas needs to be more.

More activity.

More commitment.

More decor.

More stuff.

As November was drawing to a close and I realized the Christmas season was upon us, I had a slight moment of panic.

“I haven’t even started on my Christmas cards.”

“When am I going to have time to make special homemade gifts?”

“How am I even supposed to decorate with a toddler underfoot?”

These questions were taking the joy out of Christmas before the season had even begun. And they were putting the focus on the wrong person: me. When Christmas becomes about my to-do list, I miss out on the real focus. We say we know that the focus is Jesus, but are we really doing anything to make Him central in this season? If we take time to think back to the first Christmas, we realize that there was nothing but simplicity.

A stable.

A manger.

Swaddling clothes.

These were the ordinary and somewhat crude things that surrounded the birth of our Savior. He was born into the most simple setting and proceeded to live a rather simple life for his first thirty years. So why do we feel the need to celebrate His birth with excess?

I’m not suggesting we throw out all the festivities surrounding Christmas. I sent Christmas cards, I made ornaments with my toddler, and my husband and I used a toddler-free evening to decorate the house. Before it’s all said and done, I’ll make homemade cinnamon candy and gifts will be wrapped (and then unwrapped). But the reality is, I’ve chosen a bit less this year.

Less activity.

Less commitment.

Less decor.

Less stuff.

This has freed my heart to have space to “prepare Him room.” It’s allowed me time for reflection. And it’s given me the capacity to enjoy the traditions and celebrations I’ve chosen to keep.

In reality, the little traditions we cherish in the days leading up to Christmas are just a reflection of the anticipation of the birth of Christ and also of the return of Christ for his bride in the not-so-distant future.

I’ll still be giving Christmas gifts. But the gifts are just a reminder of the gift God gave to us in His Son. The most loving, sacrificial gift ever given.

If you have a full schedule this Christmas season, and that’s life-giving to you, I’m not saying you should clear your schedule. If you enjoy your seventy-two traditions and your ten thousand Christmas decorations, and that is a reflection to you of the excitement of the coming of our Savior, please keep it up! Celebrate with all the exuberance that is within you!

But if you’re like me, and maybe you have a lower capacity for the hustle and bustle and you’re easily overwhelmed by all the extras of the Christmas season, I’m here to tell you to give yourself permission to do less this year. Clear your schedule. Clear the clutter. Do only those things that fill you with joy and anticipation for the true reason we celebrate.