Every morning I patter out to the living room to turn on the tree. It’s on a timer along with the garland and lights wrapping the staircase railing. In the evening, they light up on their own, but in the morning, when it’s still dark and I’m still sleepy and not quite sure if the day will be a safe place to be, I turn them on to bring me peace.

We decorate early in our household. Very early. We have ever since I had cancer. Around Halloween the kids start asking when we we’ll get the totes down from the shelves in the garage.

I’ve already spent two afternoons laughing with friends or snuggling with kids as we predict the next scene in our favorite Hallmark movies.

Life is good.

But what about when life doesn’t feel good?

I know some of you are looking at the next six weeks like you’re staring into the barrel of a gun. Please God no, you pray. I can’t handle it this year, you think.

You’re looking at your first Thanksgiving and Christmas with an empty seat where your spouse is supposed to be. Or with kids who won’t be unwrapping presents at the foot of your tree.

Or maybe it’s the stress of pulling out your credit card so you can pull off all this holiday magic that’s putting you in a panic.

Guess what?

Christmas isn’t about you. It’s about a Savior. For that matter, Thanksgiving isn’t about you either. It’s about clearing our minds of the constant need to do and have, and instead pausing to remember how blessed we really are.

You don’t need to put up one single decoration. Maybe this year, less is more for you.

But please don’t cop out and say “Less is more!” just because you’re too sad or lonely to be reminded of the holiday. It’s here and every time you walk out your door or turn on your television, you’re going to be reminded.

So how about we work together to combat the part of you that might wish this season away? How? With my favorite weapon:


We can keep our eyes on what’s meaningful when we keep them off ourselves.

I got an email wishlist from the local homeless shelter yesterday. Today I’ll be heading out to buy things like shampoo and body wash and bus passes.

Sure, some of that will cost you money you might not have. So how about writing a note to someone for whom you are grateful? Or offering to drive someone’s kids home from practice?

With our focus on kindness, we just might find that the holidays aren’t such a scary place to be.