Balance For The Holidays

It’s November. It’s the time of the year where people start making remarks about how fast the year has gone and how little time there is left in 2016. The days will go quickly now. The malls will fill up. It will be another two months of chaos before the hustle of the season dies down.

For years I struggled with this time of year because it is so easy to lose sight of the reason for celebrating. It’s easy to become more paranoid about your bank account or more insecure about your weight than to slow down and remember the holidays are such a big deal.

It’s the celebration of friends, family, a year gone by, and the miracle of Jesus. I say I want to be “less busy” but I forget that “less busy” is something you must train yourself to be. These are all the reasons why November shows up and I don’t know how to handle her.

I don’t know how to handle her pauses. Her hopes that I’ll show gratitude. Her patience towards me when I want to keep hustling and she’s just fine to stand in the corner– letting me rip the days of her off the calendar– and only say once in all her 31 days, “You’re going to miss me when I am gone. You’re going to miss me if you don’t look up.”

Looking up is the whole point to this time of year. In the spirit of looking up, here are a few tips to keep you healthy and balanced throughout this upcoming holiday season:

SET HOLIDAY GOALS

Most of the time, we set goals for “after” the holiday season. When we’ve had our fill of turkey, freshly baked pies, and we’re whining about all the extra holiday weight. The holidays are a time to celebrate but they were never meant to be an excuse to get off course with goals and throw our health to the side.

Set mini goals as you head into the middle of November that will empower you to be strong and healthy. That way, when January comes, you won’t feel like you are creating a bunch of goals that overwhelm you with their strict regiment. You will already feel as though you’ve made progress towards a better you.

HOST A DIY NIGHT

This is something I am hoping to do with my girlfriends this year! The holidays can easily get us out of sync with close friendships as we all race to get the shopping done, bake the treats, and attend the holiday parties. However, people need community more than anything during the holiday season.

My friends and I have a tradition every year where we get together and create vision boards for the year ahead. It’s such a fun time to dream up new things and say goodbye to the old surrounded by people you love. Cultivating community-- no matter how busy the calendar gets-- should always be a priority.

STAY CENTERED IN THE PURPOSE

The purpose of the holiday season is Jesus. It’s the celebration of Him coming to earth to save us and bring us new hope for the future. We cannot forget that. I challenge myself to pick up an advent study during this time of the year so that I do not forget why He came and how that changes everything.

There’s a quiet trace of loss and a need to hold each other tighter this time of year. There’s a desperation in people’s voices for a savior, something bigger than the gifts and the parties. Don’t forget to see the lost and broken who need a reason bigger than themselves to keep going today.

PAUSE AND BREATHE

Every year, I do whatever I can to stop and see the lights. Whether I take a night to go drive around the neighborhoods of Atlanta and notice them or take more frequent walks, my favorite part of this year is the lights. They’re everywhere. And, if we don’t stop, we miss them. We miss the beauty of a time that only comes at the tail end of each year and then sprints off at the start of January. There’s magic in the air when you stop to notice it.

But if you never stop, you’ll miss. I’ll miss it. Another season will come through. It might not be perfect. It might never be perfect. But it’s good and we’re here. And it makes me feel like I should call someone up tonight. I should call someone up tonight and ask them before it’s too late: “Hey, have you gotten a chance to see the lights this year? Let’s go.”

Hannah Brencher

Hannah Brencher founded the global organization More Love Letters in 2011 and cofounded If You Find This Email in 2015. Her memoir “If You Find This Letter” is now in bookstores across the country.  Connect with her on Twitter.   

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