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Why I’m Ditching The Holiday Hustle

by Katie Balla

My phone pings. I look down and notice another event added to our family calendar by my husband and I feel a little tension rise in my chest. It starts to bring up the list of things. I have to find another babysitter. I need to make another appetizer. I need to find cute dresses for the girls for Christmas Eve. I need to remind Declan to work from home on the day of the holiday performance. I need to buy gifts for the grandparents. Oh crap–don’t forget about the teacher gifts–you must remember the teachers.

The list goes on.

The holiday is literally just beginning and I can already feel the hustle creeping in. We sing songs about Peace on Earth but most of us likely feel very little peace in a season with so much expectation, so much to do, so many extras on top of our already intense everyday lives.

The idea of Christmas for most people brings all the warm fuzzy thoughts, cozy fires, hot cocoa and cookies and watching ELF on repeat. It means spending time with your loved ones and candle-light services, parties and holiday concerts, and picking out that special gift you know someone will love. But the idea of it isn’t always how it ends up feeling -you know what I’m saying?

Every year I tell myself to slow down, appreciate the season of Advent. That this will be the year I do it right, really teaching my children intentionally about it; the expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus. But every year–without fail–the hustle gets us, and screws it all up.

So how do you enjoy and truly reflect on what Christmas means and not let busyness win? If you figure it out, let me know. But here is our plan:


    • We took the girls out of extras this month. No gymnastics, fewer dance practices. (already taking a deep breath just thinking about it)
    • We will be reading a family Advent Devotional together. Hold me to it.
    • We will say no to obligations that don’t bring us joy.
    • We will be staying in town. Less travel=less stress (especially for a family of 5)
    • No more extra gift giving to our family members. (Instead of exchanging gifts with all my siblings and their children, for example, we put the money we would have spent into a pot and do something good with it. Send some YoungLife kids to camp, maybe-or provide a few families in Haiti with chickens and goats as food sources.)
    • We will not be hosting any formal events. (Sure, we may invite friends over for an impromptu night of pizza & The Grinch, or cookie decorating–but nothing formal, nothing stress-inducing.)
    • One of our kids is getting surgery. (I know this sounds funny–but every time I think about our daughter getting her tonsils out 5 days before Christmas, I actually think it will be a hidden blessing. We can stay home and relax and have a very valid excuse to just cozy up and not do extra things!)

Ever heard the phrase, Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail? A little aggressive, perhaps–but I’m thinking since every year has been a bust in experiencing peace and rest in this holiday season, I figured having a plan this year may actually help. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to try.

If you’re sick of the holiday hustle-maybe you need a plan too?

We can step back from the fast pace.


Enjoy the people we love.



And be completely in awe that our Savior came to earth as a precious, vulnerable, tiny baby. The mingling of God + Humanity. Phew. That’s good stuff, and I wanna be totally here for it.

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