I'm Not Going to Lose My Joy!

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
And today is a gift.

My 16 year old son, Elliot, has reminded me of these truths several times over the past few weeks.

As I've sifted through my obligations and traditions, it's helped me to prioritize, causing me to live for TODAY!

I’ve decided to not let change or turbulent times take away from my living out my passions during this holiday season. Don’t we all have opportunities right in front of us? And don’t we all get hugely side-tracked during the season?

I don’t want to lose my focus or my joy. I want to evaluate my decisions. I want to think ahead and determine if what I’m considering doing is really necessary. Because with family, you can’t just go “cold-turkey” and stop all traditions!

So with that determined, I’m starting to plan now ...
• I’ve already started buying and stocking up on baking products, and making some baking goals within reason.

• I’ve gone through my holiday wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows and my gift closet to pull out and organize gifts I’ve purchased on “clearance” throughout the year.

• I’ve made my list of who I want to take gifts to, scaling WAY back on purchases and giving more “homemade” gifts.

• We’ve already talked with our kids, explaining to them why we are cutting back on gift-giving, and focusing more on relationships. (It's not about the money we spend on each other one day out of the year. What's more important is the relationship we forge throughout the whole year! They totally get it!)

• Instead of going overboard on stocking stuffers, I’m writing down a few practical things that I want to include, and sticking to that list.

• We trimmed our tree on Sunday night, and even though it’s a fake tree (purchased at a garage sale 4 years ago - and it's beautiful!), we pointed out to the kids the money we’ve saved over the years. (I know, I know – the dilemma of fresh vs. fake …)

• We’re using what we have for decorations, limiting our time of decorating the house to a minimum. (Is it really worth it to spend hours upon end in decorating, possibly just trying to impress others?)

• I will pull some of my older snazzy clothes from my closet for holiday parties – and resist the urge to buy new.

And then, what really counts …
• I will plan out a few events or dinners that I want to have in my home, but will not over-extend myself and make my family miserable!

• I will be flexible and learn to “go with the flow” if plans change.

• As my family is growing, I will include them in decision making, not taking away from what the holiday season is really about.

• I will enjoy my kids!

• I will be thankful for another Christmas to spend with my husband and 3 children, and family and friends.

• I will remember why I ever let all of this craziness enter my life – and instead keep my focus on Christ.

• I will not lose my JOY.

I will not get worked up – because TODAY is the day that counts.

Do you lose your joy over the holidays or have you found a healthy balance?


paperjunk-lc said...

I must confess I wasn't very joyful over the Thanksgiving holiday. Lots of financial stress in my life right now and it's gotten the best of me.
Thank you so much for your post I really needed to hear it!

Shilo said...

What a great post! And the picture of you and your daughter is so precious!

Betsy said...

We must be on the same wavelength as I could have written this myself! I've re-prioritized and made some lists. It's going to be a beautiful season...everything done within reason and concentrating on enjoying the most important things. Amen and yea! :)

ellen b. said...

I'm with you Sandy! I will choose Joy! :0)

Sandy Toes said...

Just a great post..YES! I can get so busy with all that has to be done..I forget to STOP and enjoy it with my kids and husband. Without the "joy" it is not a holiday. This year, I to have learned to say "NO"..I can't do that or make that..it stresses me out!

Instead of putting up a million trees..just a few...instead of decorating every piece of wood in my house..just here and there...I want to watch the snow fall with my kids..stir hot chocolate with a peppermint stick with JOY!
-sandy toes

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you! I live in the Detroit, Michigan suburbs and with the auto industry in trouble, people are very down in this area. My brother-in-law lost his job 2 weeks ago. I rec'd an email this morning from a friend whose husband lost his job today. So many people we know are worried about possibly losing their jobs and while I understand the worry, my husband was downsized from a job in 2001, right before the 9/11 attacks, and was out of work for 15 months. I feel I can honestly say to whoever is worried and hurting, you will get through it. I deeply regret my anger and joylessness during that trying time for my family. Being thankful and joyous during this time is so important and with all the worry and negativity out there, too many of us are forgetting that. We can never get this time back, we should live it now. It sounds so contrite to say, it's only money...it's only a job, but soon after my husband found another job, back in 2002, my 4 year old (at the time) daughter was diagnosed with diabetes. That put things in perspective for us, as did the 9/11 attacks. I guess I'm just trying to say, find the joy where we can and concentrate on that. It's so easy to say and so difficult to do. Sincerely, Patti Hill from Livonia, Michigan

RosyRose said...

I too agree Sandy...When we look for Joy in the person that Christmas is for we don't need to look for it in the trimmings.
We just talked with our kids last night about the possibility of saving all money from Christmas gifts for a couple years and instead taking a trip to see our Compassion sponsered child.
We are praying about that. Most of them seem to like this idea!
I really want this season to be full of laughter and good memories non of which require more stuff!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Choosing joy....my motto...it's a choice, not a feeling. Great post...and even better when the kids "get it."

Melanie said...

Just this Sunday I was looking through our church bulletin at the needs that were listed...help for single moms, older folks who could use grocery gift cards, etc.,
I made mental notes on how we can spend our Christmas budget to truly bless others.
A very timely post.
I would like to add, however, that I have a very good friend who is a gifted decorator. She finds great joy in making her home beautiful and inviting especially at Christmas time. She and her husband host parties for friends and church members. To her, it is not a joy stealer but a joy enhancer. I'm sure to some of her guests hosting a Christmas party would be very stressful so it is a blessing when someone else like my friend uses her gift in this way.
Of course, the key to less stress is operating in your gifting in a balanced way.

Christy said...

I am totally with you on this!

I am attempting the exact same thing this year and I am SO thankful that my children are getting the idea too.

Choosing joy with you friend!

Jerri Lynn @ Southern Sassyness said...

Oh my gosh....I SO needed to read this today. Where has my joy gone? We have had some stressful times here lately and I have been a little discouraged. So, thank you for this! You have really made my day brighter. :)

Kirstin said...

Great post Sandy! Yesterday as the girls "decorated" with the Christmas decor and I had to just decide to "let go" of any of my preconceived ideas of what I would have wanted or how I would have decorated. I had to ask myself...what is the big deal of having what "I" think things should look like. I want them to have fun and learn to love decorating, so who cares if it's not what I would do or what I think others will think is "neat looking". My oldest did a lot yesterday, and youngest wants to decorate some today.

It's about making memories, not regrets!! Thank you for your transparency. I got a lot out of today's post.

It's easy to be in a new home with "not so new" stuff and begin to feel self conscious or discontent. And I just can't go there. I'm so thankful for this home and for my amazing husband who built it and for God whose provision is seen everywhere.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I will not loose my joy.

the word verification is macy ch~ as in charge$$$ or change?? :-)

OKGardners said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your way of thinking. It isn't about gifts - it is about relationships. Every day. Not just one day per year.

Your 3 babies are growing up fast. I love the picture of your daughter on your lap. She appears to be as tall as you now. However, my son is 6'2" and is very muscular, but will ALWAYS be my baby. Forever!

Enjoy every minute. I know you do. My babies are now 43, 40 and 38. My how time flies! Seems the best times of my life was when all 3 kids were home - safe and sound under our roof. I miss those days!

Betty in Oklahoma

Tiff said...

I tend to get unjoyful when my kids fight, pull ornaments off the tree, or things just don't go the way I planned. Thanks for this post! I need to have a gentle reminder to keep my Joy over the holidays!

Heather said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!
We all need to go back to the way Christmas should be celebrated! Sometimes I actually enjoy Thanksgiving more as you get to be with friends and loved ones but there isn't the stress of presents and cards and baked goods, etc. Don't get me wrong - I live for all of that stuff! I just don't like the stress of having it happen all at once!

Mod Girl said...

Me too, me too, me too! Afterall the greatest joy is in personally knowing the One who gives us grace.

Angelarichardson@mac.com said...

Sandy! I have to say first of all, I am HONORED that you would comment on crumbs in my butter! I read your blog all the time. Actually, I should spend more time doing some of the things you blog about, instead of reading it so much! ha! Thank you for inspiring us to make our homes more of a retreat and to spend more time with people. I can tell, you and I would get along just fine! I love to eat and have a party ANY DAY!

mrsjones6 said...

What a great post! Your list to encourage you to live for today is fabulous! I am all for keeping the joy of the holidays alive and not stressing so much. Your ideas just help encourage me to keep it up!
Have a wonderful week,

linda t said...

Wow, I actually had a little melt down today... anticipating the busyness of the season.
I so want Christmas to be simple, full of peace, joy and contentment... and by golly, I am going to strive to get it!

Thanks Sandy for inspiring me... your list is now MY list! I could not have said it better my friend!

linda t said...

Wow, I actually had a little melt down today... anticipating the busyness of the season.
I so want Christmas to be simple, full of peace, joy and contentment... and by golly, I am going to strive to get it!

Thanks Sandy for inspiring me... your list is now MY list! I could not have said it better my friend!

K :) Family Historian said...

Wow, that was so well written and helpful. I have really been working on keeping the love and joy in the forefront of the holidays. I have made some decisions on scaling back and that has felt really good. I agree with your (once again) inspiring words.

Dawn said...

You've got so many great ideas listed here. I think I've found a good balance...I'm definitely enjoying myself lately and I love the holidays.

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

Isn't that the truth. All of it.

Have a happy, joyful season focused on Jesus.


Rhonda said...

Wow Sandy - such an inspiration. You've really reminded of us of what is really important, our kids, our family, our relationships. It's so easy to overdo 'everything' and over extend in all areas. Thanks for reminding us to put high expectations on ourselves. :)

Kim said...


Thanks for sharing your heart! I had a little melt down last week and I thought about not hosting the neighborhood cookie exchange. It would be much easier if I just crossed it off my list. However, after talking with some friends and realizing that relationships with other women are a priority - I decided to go ahead with it. Again, the reminder that it isn't about my "home" but about relationships with others!

Jules from "The Roost" said...

sounds like you have a good plan going, girl ;) I agree totally!

Anonymous said...

I could cry...all of us have been touched by you today!And thanks Patti Hill for your responce.
I keep singing "For I Got Joy Joy Joy Joy Down In My Heart"
So all together now...


Seven Danforth's said...

Sandy...your shoes, where did you get them? And I also wanted to mention thanks for this post, very inpirational

LisaJanelle said...

What a beautiful post. I think so many are stressed out over the the state of our economy and what do we do and how do we do it..etc. I'm not going to lose the joy either...although I get so much joy in decorating for myself rather than for others during the holidays and I will do what I can with what I have and just be creative! It IS all about the joy this season....I love that idea so much and thank you for your very beautiful heartfelt words that are so true in today's trying times.


Tammy said...

Thank you for this, Sandy...
My little girls are both in a huge Christmas program with their children's choir this year consisting of 10 separate shows! They sing 5 times this weekend and 5 times the next, and today I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. When would we have time to get our tree, ect? But I know, since we're already commited, that I need to put the whole thing into God's hands...that God would be the one to be glorified through the Christmas presentations, and that He would grant us plenty of relaxed time with the family, as well.
God bless!

emilymcd said...

Thanks, Sandy! This was a really great post, as usual.

see you there! said...

A wonderful post Sandy. Our girls are married-with-children. We dropped the over the top decorating years ago and presents are kept to a minimum. Cooking and eating together is the focus of our celebration these days. We
are thankful and JOYful for the food and the companionship. It makes me sad when I so often read that young marrieds don't want to be with their parents.


Julia said...

Thank you for reminding me of what is really important this season. Our family is in a money crises this year and will not be buying gifts to exchange. How ever we have some beautiful things of our own that I will be wrapping up to give to loved ones. The important thing to remember is we have each other and our health to be thankful for. The holiday is about giving of our selfs and not things. I prayed for God to help make my life more simple and that prey has been answered. There will be no crazy shopping list to complete as will as no wasted left overs form a stressful holiday party. Just a simple family get together with games and lots of laughter.
Thank you again for your encouraging words, it nice to know that we aren't the only ones re-thinking the way we celebrate the holidays.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I choose Joy!

We told our kids that gifts will be scaled back to ONE thing they really want so we may travel to be with cousins and grandparents this year.

"They totally get it" too : ) They are SO excited about taking farm walks with Grandpa, playing cards with their newly married cousin and her hubby, and eating all the special treats that make my Mom's sideboard groan under the weight.

It's ME that must slap my hands to quit buying STUFF now and believe them... no, believe GOD, that this will be just right.

deb meyers

Betts said...

You voiced my sentiments exactly. I've been thinking simularly over the past couple of days. I think, "I will not lose my joy," will become my mantra, because I have to keep reminding myself to not do too much.

Wendy said...

Wow -- lots of comments! You really struck a nerve with a lot of bloggers out there. With me, too -- especially with a recent layoff, our family is re-evalutating the upcoming holiday. Thanks for such a great post today.

~j~ said...

I love all these declarations Sandy!
Good for you, i am so on board with all of those (well except with no kids around anymore :() and even my hubby and I have agreed to keeping it super simple..

Laurie said...

Thank you so much. I actually felt the peace take over as I was reading your post. I am getting ready for a big cookie exchange at my house this Saturday and this was just what I needed to read.

Your family is adorable!

Christine said...

You are so wise! I'm actually looking forward to this season more than ever since I'm no longer working at a church. Even so, I raised my expectations too high and already had to cut something off of my to-do list. Years past, though, I would have stressed for weeks and felt like a failure for not getting it done. I am learning! ;)

Apron Thrift Girl said...

What an inspiring list of affirmations Sandy. I am so delighted and pleased to read that so many people are going to be making home made gifts. The photo of you and your daughter is beautiful. I can only pray that my daughter and I will have as close of a relationship when she is older. Well I guess I'll be older too.

Lori of I'm no super Mom said...

I agree with you! I love our holiday season and I quit losing my joy a few years ago before my youngest was born, thank goodness. I

Live.Love.Eat said...

I'm not sure how you found me but I am so happy you did! I am in love with your blog and I have only been here for 5 minutes. You're beautiful and I just love what I am seeing! Can't wait to go peruse some more.

simpledaisy said...

What a lovely post!! It is so challenging to keep everything in perspective during the busiest time of the year!! Good luck!! I know I am going to try harder!!

Monday through Sunday said...

I have found a pretty good balance..but still tweaking it a bit! :)

Kacey R. said...

Thanks for coming by. I really enjoyed reading this post. It puts things in perspective and what counts the most - our time with our family. Your family is beautiful!

Suzann @ Lavender and Roses said...

I have to tell you that this is my most favorite post in the history of my blog-reading. As a person who suffers from depression, this is a difficult time for me. The past 3 Christmases I have been so down that it has taken my all just to get through the day to day. This year I am trying to cut back on the pressure and enjoy and appreciate. Your post speaks directly to my heart and for that I thank you for sharing this piece of your life and spirit with us all.

Robin said...

Wonderful advice for a busy time. We do not need to lose our focus on whatis truly important!!!

I love reading your blog!


Tricia said...

What a great reminder to keep in mind what is important. Thx : )

Stephanie said...

I love this list! I was just saying today that I feel pulled in so many different directions that I'm not enjoying any of it. I just want to be home, baking cookies, decorating, and entertaining and instead I'm doing everything but.

Thank you for this reminder :)

Susie said...

So good to read this. This post is what I hear is being shared in so many homes this year. I am ready to begin to cherish those we love more than the gifts received.

It is hard that my kids are accustomed to nice presents and this year they are going to receive very few little. So far they are fine with it all. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in these changes.

Connie said...

We are doing the same thing and scaling back and enjoying time with each other. Connie

Angela said...

"I’ve decided to not let change or turbulent times take away from my living out my passions during this holiday season" amen amen amen

It's been three months since my husband has been out of work. I just finished telling my husband yesterday that even though these have been the most difficult time in our lives (my mother was told that she had two months to live), I have seen the hand of God, His love, His faithfulness, provisions, and comfort more than ever before.
I love the word simplify! This year we are paying cash for presents, not using the credit cards, buying gifts that are not just to fill up the bottom of the tree, but coming from the heart. It's all about HIM, Jesus is the reason for the season, and like you said, I will not allow the trials, stresses, tribulations to steal my joy! For the joy of the Lord is my strength.
You have a beautiful family, beautiful home and a beautiful heart. ((hugs))