My Rashionale: Simplifying even one tradition could amplify our ‘reason for the season’

December arrived in overdrive mode this year especially by showing up before we even wrapped the Thanksgiving weekend.

Tree-lighting events; parades; photo shoots; school, work and church activities; and a variety of other Christmas festivities filled calendars the first two weeks of the month. 

School students are counting down the last few weeks until Christmas break and college students have already wrapped up classes or are taking those last few finals.

Along with working our way through the first half of December’s seasonal events, we have one eye on the events coming the last half of the month with friends and family.

Those of us still thinking about gifts and making shopping lists are down to the two-week mark or less if we need to mail them. Anyone else OK with letting the postmark count as the gift being on time rather than the delivery date? 

And then consider all the end-of-year expectations connected to our ministries and places of business.

Whew! The more I stare at the growing list of things to do and places to be, the more stressed I become.

Some Decembers through the years have indeed overwhelmed me and in turn left me exhausted and missing out on experiencing the true reason and joy of the season — celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior.

However, a few Christmas seasons remain among my favorites because I guarded my time, planned ahead and captured special memories by merely being fully present in the moment.

When our friend from a sister Baptist entity shared his Apple Watch story (see, God started working on my heart. What’s something I’m wanting more than Him this season? And am I willing to give it up?

As I thought through gifts I wanted for myself or wanted to give others I couldn’t quite find a peace about what to give up there. Our gifts have become more and more streamlined during the past several years so I was already in that mindset.

Even our gifts at TAB turned more toward ministry and service projects several years ago. 

We continued that tradition this year by sponsoring two children in care of foster parents connected to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries. Our staff had fun picking out the gifts on each child’s Christmas list.

With a peace about gifts, my mind turned to time and the extra elements related to Christmas. I absolutely love Christmas decorations but the time and effort they take as well as the storage space they require can easily become more important than Jesus Himself at this time of year.

So a simple wreath on the door, a beautiful poinsettia for a pop of Christmas color in the lobby, a Nativity scene and a few other simple Christmas decorations is all you will find at TAB this year — but we believe the spirit of Christmas will more than fill the building because of the hearts of those inside.