No.  Not your Christmas prayer intention.  I mean what is your intention this Christmas?  What is your focus?  Your purpose?  Your point?

Christmas Star 2

Don’t worry if you don’t have one.  For years I didn’t either.  I approached Christmas and its preparations like an ADHD puppy: frantically and impulsively trying to do everything I could to make our Christmas celebration everything I thought it should be.

Unfortunately, what I thought it should be was some strange mix of fond childhood memories, Martha Stewart, magazine covers, and Hallmark cards all rolled into one.  It took the busy-ness of life to finally make me take stock.

I decided to refocus my efforts on the things that my family wanted instead of what I thought they should want.  For instance, I like to bake.  Around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays I like to bake a LOT.  BUT, during those times of the year, my to-do list is full of a lot more than “bake cookies”.  So, even though I like to bake, I usually have less time to do it. 

My solution?  I asked my husband and each of my children what cookie they looked forward to most during the holidays.  What would they miss if they didn’t have it during the Christmas season?  In the end, I baked four different types of cookies (we had some overlap of favorites) instead of trying to bake without a plan. My baking now has intention.

In a similar way, I had the kids make their Christmas lists with intention.  Their list-making instructions included things like keeping greed in check, choosing things that they REALLY wanted, and not allowing themselves to open the toy catalog and circle everything they saw.  I limited the number of items they could put on their lists and told them to include some things that were affordable enough for their siblings to get them.  Their Christmas lists now have intention.

Finally, this technique flowed over into holiday activities as well.  I asked the kids and my husband what their favorite things to do as a family during the holidays were. The result was a lot more Christmas DVD watching in the evenings and trips to look at Christmas lights and a lot less forced family fun.  Our fun now has intention.

The wonderfully unintentional outcome of this process is not only a calmer season but a season that is also uncluttered by the things that take our focus away from the Reason for the season, the birth of our Lord.  We’ll have more time to attend Reconciliation as a family and observe the home tradition of the Advent wreath and we might even have time to add in an additional spiritual preparation as a family.  If we do, though, it will be with the intention of deepening our spiritual life and not of adding to our mental clutter.

What are the things your family intends to do this season?  I’d especially like to hear about your spiritual preparations.

Copyright 2013 Laura Nelson