Why I am trying so hard to avoid the “S” word this Christmas….

And no, it’s not that “S” word!!! (although I do try to avoid that one too! 😉 )

Nor is it Santa (although who knew that word could be quite so controversial in certain circles!!)

No, the “S” word that I am trying so hard to avoid this year is the word…..SHOULD.

Does any of this sound familiar?

I should put up more decorations.
I should buy more gifts.
I should bake cookies with my kids.
I should want to bake cookies with my kids.
I should make 18 side dishes to go with the turkey, ham and roast beef I am serving to my group of 7!
I should feel happier this Christmas.
I should put up cute graphics with my blog post! 😉
I should…I should…I should….

Maybe it’s my age (after all I am finding my 40’s to be so incredibly freeing!!), but as my mental “I should’s” began to kick into high gear this Christmas season, I found myself suddenly asking:

Says who????

Who says that I should buy more, do more, feel more?

Seriously? Who?

I pondered the internal list of should’s and realized that I was the one saying what I should do. So doesn’t it stand to reason that I could also be the one to tell myself to shut up?!?!

And so I did!

And oh my word y’all! It felt amazing!

So many “should’s” have crept into my Christmas over the years.

Some of them are related to traditions (and yet most of those traditions were things that no one even really missed!!).

A lot of my “should’s” come from the ding dang Hallmark Channel! (oh Hallmark Christmas movies how I love you! but how you cause me such angst when I can’t decorate my home like a movie set, or when my people don’t follow the heartwarming script I’d gladly provid, or when my neatly tied-up happily ever after doesn’t happen. And so I will continue loving you and your sappiness, but dear Lord I will stop trying to expect my life to mimic you!).

And still other “should’s” come from my desire to want to look like I have it all together—the joy filled maker of Christmas magic whose heart is at all times awash with the glow of the wonder of the manger and whose inner soundtrack is at all times tuned to “O Holy Night.”

Well, this year I surrender.

There will be traditions that go undone.
There will be pain-in-the-neck-to-hang garland that goes unhung.
And there will be Christmas songs that go unsung.

But you know what? I have a pretty good feeling that Christmas will still happen! That it really isn’t even about that stuff anyway! And that it might even be a pretty good one!

And yes, there are some things we do at Christmas (and all year long) that we just have to do. But those fundamentals (like keeping the humans entrusted into your care alive and educated) aside what if this year every time we start to hear ourselves say a mental “should” statement we replace it with a “can” question?

What if instead of:

I should really make 89 loaves of banana bread for all my friends and family because…well, I made them last year….

We replaced it with:

What can I do to bless those God has laid on my heart this year?

What if instead of:

I should go buy more decorations…

We asked:

How can I make my home an inviting place for my family to gather this Christmas?

And what if instead of:

I should have the perfect tree, matching family pajamas, professionally decorated cookies and well thought out gifts awaiting the wonder-filled faces of my perfect children this Christmas morning….

We asked:

Lord, how can I simply rest in You this Christmas—the only perfect person and gift ever given?

This Christmas is not gonna be perfect at our house: I found a typo in the Christmas cards that I actually remembered to order on time. We may or may not make the annual gingerbread house. Our tree is way too fat. I didn’t put garland on the piano, we have mismatched lights in our bush outside, and my kids are stressed-out, school-burned-out maniacs!

But, you know what? An imperfect “should-free” Christmas sounds absolutely perfect to me!

May your Christmas be should-free and your heart grace-filled!

Much love,


Our Christmas bush tree!


About My Work

This blog serves as an online journal of sorts. It is where I go to process my thoughts and feelings. It is where I write about what it means to shine the light of Jesus in an ever darkening world. And it is where I record the beautiful glimpses of God’s extraordinary grace in the midst of my very ordinary life.

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