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"How to say no during Advent" by Ginny Kochis (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: By Tamara Menzi (2016), Unsplash, CC0 Public Domain[/caption] It’s hard for me to say no to things. I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s especially difficult this time of year when the leaves change, the air turns crisp, and Target starts rolling out the Christmas decorations before we’ve even had a chance to throw out last year’s candy corn. It’s like a tidal wave rushing in across the vast and limitless ocean. We know it’s coming. We can see it coming. The great holiday tsunami will be upon us soon enough. There will be gatherings and parties and events and performances and shopping and wrapping and … Man. I’m out of breath just thinking about it. This is the time of year when our calendars start imploding. We let other people’s expectations, desires, and attitudes dictate whether we say yes or no. And because we are women, we have a natural desire to create and sustain what is beautiful. It's a wonderful thing when used appropriately. It’s problematic when  -- for appearances -- we deck the halls.
As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Mama, the world will not fall apart if you decline an invitation or put up one less decoration than you normally do. Someone else will step up, simple beauty will take the forefront, and you’ll have way more opportunities for grace in front of you.

The truth is, each “yes” has the potential to pack global stress on family life.

Before you respond in the affirmative, ask yourself: Am I doing this because it will serve to sanctify and renew my family? Am I doing this for appearances and outside expectations, or is my focus on beauty for the sake of connection and truth? More often than not, we make decisions based on what we think other people want or need. The resulting chaos and busyness are a product of our fearfulness:
  • Fear of missing out
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of disappointment
This is not what God wants for us.

God has much grander plans for us during the coming season. He wants to use it as a time for refinement, a time for drawing us more fully into his love.

Yes, the holiday season is fast approaching. No, you don’t have to lose your mind.

Lower Your Expectations

Across the board, for everything. Tell yourself now that it’s okay to embrace the simple. It will be much easier to breathe when things get tight.

Communicate them Far and Wide

If you’re going to make changes this season, you’ve got to get everybody on board. Talk to your husband, your extended family, and even your kids as you deem appropriate. Explain you are going to take a step back from all the craziness and get them to join you on the quiet bus.

Block Downtime into Your Calendar

Now is the time to look at your calendar and throw in some blackout dates. These are days and times YOU WILL NOT COMMIT to anything. You are leaving them open for simple family time and rest.

Make Sure You Schedule Recreation and Prayer

Keep it simple: Choose a weekend or two to go to Confession as a family. Schedule board-game or read-aloud nights for your family to share.

The more you begin to say no to the crazy, the more you will find the true meaning of this season in your heart.

Mother Teresa understood this and, praise God, we have her wisdom:
Don’t think that love, to be true, has to be extraordinary. What is necessary is to continue to love. How does a lamp burn, if it is not by the continuous feeding of little drops of oil? When there is no oil, there is no light and the bridegroom will say: “I do not know you”. Dear friends, what are our drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things from every day life: the joy, the generosity, the little good things, the humility and the patience. A simple thought for someone else. Our way to be silent, to listen, to forgive, to speak and to act. That are the real drops of oil that make our lamps burn vividly our whole life. Don’t look for Jesus far away, He is not there. He is in you, take care of your lamp and you will see Him. - St. Teresa of Calcutta
Tell me, friend, how much have you stored in your coffers? If you’re anything like me, not a lot. Don’t let your light burn out before the season of Advent has even started. Keep it simple. Keep it sacred. Keep it His, and His alone.
Copyright 2018 Ginny Kochis