celebration over obligation

Celebration Over Obligation

Y’all, its Christmastime!


Time for carols on the radio and red cups at Starbucks (mmm, peppermint mochas…)! Time for twinkly lights decorating houses full of giggly kids and happy parents. Cozy fires and lovely evergreens clothed in sparkle and protecting pretty packages. Time for candlelit renditions of Silent Night and prayers of gratitude for the precious gift of our Savior.


Actually… that’s not exactly how this season looks, is it?


No, sadly its not all sugar plumbs and kisses under the mistletoe. Christmastime has also become a time for hurry and stress.


Its that time of the year when our calendars, to-do lists, and budgets bust at the seams and are patience runs short. It’s time for swollen waistlines and credit card bills. It’s time for comparison and rat races. It’s time for honking at spot stealers in packed parking lots, eye rolling at exhausted store clerks for taking a teensy bit too long to help the shopper in front of you. It’s Christmastime, y’all…


I don’t know about you but I want this Christmas to be better than that.


I am desperate to keep the sweetness, wonder, and joy in this beautiful season.


This is the time of year when the world is supposed to slow down and give thanks for the tender gift of a wriggly little baby in a manger and the magnificent power of reconciliation He brought to our broken world. I don’t want to miss that!


I’m tired of allowing the hustle and stress to steal the beauty of Christmas. Instead, I want to be intentional about the way I celebrate this year, so I can make room for gratitude, laughter, and togetherness.


This year, I want to hush the hurry and find the holy.


So in the spirit of intentionality, I’ve made a few mottos that I want to live by this season. Over the next few weeks I’d love to share them with you, and encourage you to make your own Christmastime mottos along with me!


Let’s party with a purpose this December, and make this Christmas the best year yet!


Motto #1: Celebration over obligation


On the very first Christmas, God wrapped grace and forgiveness in the most precious package in history and gave it to us. To you. To me.


Y’all, this is something worth celebrating! It’s worth singing, dancing, and rejoicing over!


So this year, I want celebration to rule instead of my self-inflicted obligations.


I want to hold my to-do list lighter and to carefully analyze why I am doing things. I want to ask myself: “Will this foster a heart of celebration, or is this simply an unnecessary obligation?”


Here are a few examples…


Call me the Grinch, but setting up the Christmas tree stresses me out a little. I always want it to be perfect and tend to feel guilty after spending way too much money on color-coordinated ornaments. To top it off, this month we just plain out forgot to budget for a tree.


Every time David and I started talking about setting up a Christmas tree this year we both got a little irritable with one another. Eventually, I realized the combination of a tighter budget than normal and no free time to actually go shopping for the darn thing, stressed us out more than it brought us joy.


So this year, we are skipping it.


We won’t always go treeless, but this year, I’m pretty sure not having a tree will actually allow us to celebrate better.


And those Christmas cards?


Well, they are my favorite! I love praying for our friends all over the country as I hand-letter each envelope. Kind of a weird thing to love, I know, but it is truly one of my favorite ways to celebrate.


Maybe that’s not your thing. If Christmas cards are an obligation and a frustration, will you allow yourself to skip them? Free yourself to do something that will help you celebrate instead—snuggle on the couch with some hot chocolate, take a friend out to dinner with your would-be Christmas card money, serve someone in need.


Celebration over obligation. This will be my filter for Christmastime decisions.


That 4th holiday party invitation? Will “making an appearance” bring me and others joy? Or is it an obligation that I don’t actually have time to fully enjoy? If I honestly don’t have enough margin in my schedule to attend as a joyful party guest, I’ve learned it’s better to politely decline than show up as a stressed-out, irritable mess.


It’s not about being selfish and only doing the things that are fun it is about making decisions that promote meaningful celebration—both for myself and those around me. Cooking is not always fun for me but the opportunity to sever dinner to my loved ones provides a great opportunity to celebrate together.


How can you and your family pursue meaningful celebration this Christmas? What obligations need to be hushed to allow you to find the holy this season?


Happy celebrating!



“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey” Zechariah 9:9


P.S. Check back next week for Motto #2: Presence over Presents.


  1. Heidi

    I absolutely love your motto! We are going treeless too, at least in SB!!!

  2. Pingback: How To Celebrate During A Dark Time -

Comments are closed.

Next ArticlePresence Over Presents