There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
– Luke 2: 8-14, NIV

If you’re anything like me, you likely intended to have a lot more loose ends tied up by this point in the holiday season. But somehow, we’ve arrived at this point and closing out Q4 details for our work and trying to track down those final details for the kids’ stockings and heading back out to the grocery store one more time for some elusive ingredient, it all just adds up to a big whopping serving of tired. With less than a week to go before the big day, what are some last-minute strategies you and I can engage to find a little bit of rest in the middle of this busy season? I’m working off of a 3D model I put together. Not the kind of 3D model you build and display on a shelf, but a 3D model of taking these last few days as we head full throttle into the holiday and making some space:

DELETE: Sure, there are a few days left to throw together that Christmas card you intended to send out. And, yeah, you can still insist that you’re going to wrap all the Christmas presents in handmade print paper or with hand-tied bows. And, okay, you could make homemade cookies and treats for all the neighbors. I mean, technically, there are enough days left. But here’s the real question: should you? Here’s what I’m thinking. We’re in the last little bit of time in the last quarter of the game. This probably isn’t the time to start putting new players on the field, or, um, to-do list. Stick those items you meant to handmake, craft, create, complicate, and put ‘em in the Let It Go pile. Decide what is mission-critical and focus on that. This isn’t the time to make things harder on yourself

“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”
— Peg Bracken

DELEGATE: As a DIY personality, this is one of the tougher ones for me to do, but I’m trying to embrace it more and more. You don’t have to run every errand. You don’t have to make every dish. When you’re already tired, one more run to the grocery store or the mall can take you right to the edge. And the edge is not where you and I want to be living this Christmas. We want to have the margin to enjoy the rest of the season. Consider having the groceries delivered with a service like Instacart. Let someone take care of a couple of errands through Task Rabbit. Give yourself the gift of having someone come tidy the house for two hours.

Even when the budget is tight, it’s probably worth cutting back on a few stocking trinkets to buy back something more precious: your time. I’d be willing to bet that your family would be more than happy to skip a few extra presents under the tree if it meant you were able to truly be present, well, and rested this Christmas. Getting some help with what’s left on your to-do list could be one of the best gifts you give yourself and your loved ones this year. And remember, there’s no rule that says something means more if you’re the one who wore yourself out to make it happen. (It’s true. I kinda thought there was some kind of universal parenting law on this, but it’s not there. I checked.)

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”
– Jessica Jackley

DELAY: Sometimes, we try to cram too much into this time of year. There’s nothing that says that every gathering and every celebration and every gift and every cozy holiday movie night has to happen right now. I can get so focused on making December 25th the big event that I miss the opportunities to take the season at a slower pace and to pend out some of the traditions and activities for a future date. I know plenty of families now who have embraced continuing the Christmas spirit until the Epiphany, which will be January 6, 2024. The Epiphany celebrates the wise men meeting baby Jesus. There’s nothing that says that you can’t leave your decorations up until then. Maybe that would be a better weekend for hosting a holiday party or dinner. When we think of Christmas as a fuller season, and not only the day of the 25th, it can help bring some space to breathe in the fast-paced days leading up to Christmas Eve.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things, not the great occasions, give off the greatest glow of happiness.”
— Bob Hope

A complicated Christmas or a contented one with room to spare and time to rest. I’m hoping you get to the have the later. It’s what I’m hoping for myself. And the good news? You and I get to decide! As you round the corner to Christmas Day, I’m hoping it will be a 3D Noel for you and yours. And may that time of rest and joy help you experience the love of God even more fully.