Then I thought that I should consider what I personally will take from the devotional and use that action to signal me towards the speaker and the message I should use for the program today. And that approach led me to Elder Patrick Kearon. In his remarks entitled “Bringing Christmas Into Focus,” Elder Kearon described an increased focus on the Savior gained from simplifying the season. If we truly desire to celebrate the real reason for the season, then we need to keep that Reason in our focus. And we can do that more easily when we simplify the season.
Examine your traditions
Like other holidays involving family gatherings, Christmas carries with it many traditions. These traditions can bind us closer to family members and create wonderful memories of the holiday season that will give joy long after their creation.
Yet, as Elder Kearon rightly points out, those traditions can bring added stress from the sheer quantity of tasks to accomplish that we can lose our focus on the reasons for our celebrations. We can become so absorbed in the logistics surrounding our celebrations that we forget the foundation for those celebrations.
Remembering that foundation usually comes in still, quiet moments of reflection. Elder Kearon spoke of his enjoyment of staring at Christmas tree lights and how they remind him of the Light of the world.
Refine your traditions
As I pondered Elder Kearon’s questions, I saw great wisdom behind them. I could see that, especially in the last few years, my own focus during Christmas time has been obscured by adopting the tradition of buying gifts for each member of the family, including the extended family with in-laws, nieces, and nephews.
This didn’t happen all at once. But it crept upon me so slowly I hardly know when it began. We give gifts to remind us of the gift God has given all of us in His Only Begotten. Yet I could see how my approach to that tradition — buying a separate gift for each individual — had created unneeded effort and expense that distracts my focus away from God’s gift of His Son.
It wasn’t always that way. In my younger days, I needed to obtain only four gifts — one for each parent and one for each sibling. But as life unfolded and extended families appeared and grew, that number has multiplied. Now, looking at the added expense as a college student, I think Elder Kearon’s questions are more than appropriate; they are essential for feeling the joy and peace that should attend the Christmas season.
Resolve to simplify
In response, I have determined to simply my gift giving. Instead of a separate present for each individual, I will once more give four gifts: one for each parent and one for the family of each sibling.
And I determined to gift something I had never before gifted — treats and time. By gifting a box of snacks, I provide my extended families with an excuse to spend time together as they gather to partake and share the goodies I gifted. Thus, the real gift was the chance to make treasured holiday memories.
The best part for me was how simple it all was. One visit to Amazon and I had everything purchased with instructions on where to ship everything. It was all done in a matter or minutes, and I felt looking back a peace that comes from making the right choice.
How will you simplify your Christmas season so that you can focus more on the Savior? Will you do as I did and adjust your gift giving? Perhaps you will take Elder Kearon’s suggestion to embrace temple service that “corrects our focus, magnifies our joy, and unites families here and on the other side of the veil.” Or maybe the Spirit has inspired you along a different direction.
Whatever your situation, take action to simplify the season this Christmastime. When you do, you can focus more on Christ and feel more clearly His peace. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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