[This is the third and final post in my Advent Heart series. In case you missed the first two, you can catch up on them here and here.]
Have you ever noticed how the general mood changes dramatically after the holidays are over? There's a different feeling in the air come January, one of regret for having overspent or overeaten, fatigue from so much time spent in close quarters with extended family, and disappointment that the fun and frivolity of the holidays have faded back into the busyness and grind of daily life.
Who wants that? I know I don't! Sure, I love Christmas (it's hands-down my favorite holiday), but I don't want it to be the only time of year that I enjoy. I don't want to be Buddy the Elf for one month of the year and the Grinch the rest of the year. No thanks!
But what's the solution? How can we possibly transform our attitudes and lives the rest of the year, too?
The holidays are a season of slowing down and savoring our time spent with friends, family, and God. We can bring more of that into our daily lives by creating a habit of taking things a bit slower and focusing on what's really important to us.
During the Christmas season, we tend to spend more time with our friends and family, which is also something we can work on. People matter more than things. We know this, but we don't always live like it. We can prioritize our people throughout the year.
Consider what matters most to you, and be willing to let go of the rest. Spending time baking cookies with your grandma matters more than a clean kitchen. Grabbing coffee with a friend is more important than getting in that extra load of laundry or finishing that project you've been working on.
OPEN HANDS & OPEN HEART
Generosity is something we can practice all year long. We give more freely throughout the holiday season, chalking it up to the "season of giving," but what if we were generous all year long?
What if we choose to hold all of our resources, plans, and time with open hands, willing to let God intervene how He chooses? What if we allow ourselves some wiggle room in our wallets and our calendars to give when needs arise that we're capable of meeting?
If we see a gift or an opportunity to bless someone, we can meet it regardless of what time of year it is.
COMPASSION & GRACE
One thing I love about the holidays is how much more grace people extend to others. Sure, there are people who get extra grouchy because they're under more pressure than usual to do all the things. But there are also many kind souls who work harder than normal to love and serve others, and that's something we can continue into the new year!
Much like making room for people in our hearts, calendars, and homes, consider what it would be like if we adopted a holiday-season type of grace and compassion for others.
The driver in front of you is going slowly? Maybe they're distracted by their to-do list. Someone says something unkind or without thinking of how you'll receive it? You can choose to let it roll right off your back, knowing they probably didn't mean any harm or that they're probably having a bad day.
Compassion, grace, and space are some of the greatest gifts we can give. And unlike even the best Black Friday deals, we have never-ending reserves of them if only we choose to tap into them.
How can you choose to cultivate an Advent heart year-round next year? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!