Photo by Carey Nieuwhof

So it’s day three of stress-reduction week on the blog.  Here are two ways I’ve discovered that make December more enjoyable for me (and my family):

Take a Holiday on Your Vacation

I love thinking through the meaning of words, and while I’m no etymologist (and am not even sure how to say that word properly, but they are people who study word origins), years ago I started thinking about the difference between a holiday and a vacation.  “Holiday” is a word that came from the fusion of “holy” and “day”.  Vacation, on the other hand, is from the Latin word vacare meaning ’empty’ or ‘free’.

Every Christmas, I try to take both.  I try to mark the spiritual meaning of Christmas in some way that is personally significant.  I try not to lose the meaning of Christmas in my rush.

And part of that means learning not to rush.  So I also try to ‘vacate’ and take some time off.  That doesn’t necessarily mean heading out of town, but it does mean planning a few days of nothing others than maybe hanging out  or leaving footprints in the snow on a long hike.

Book some time to simply vacate and set aside time to reflect on what matters most.  It’s a way of refueling.

Shop Early in the Morning

This one’s just so practical it sound shallow, but it works for me.  I increasingly sigh at the traffic, jammed parking lots, crowds and long line ups every weekend at the mall in December.  One way of beating the crowds is to arrive within the first hour a store opens in the morning.  The roads are relatively empty. So are the malls and stores.  What would take me two hours in the afternoon can take 45 minutes at 8 a.m. or 10:00 a.m.

Want to save even more time? Shop online. Even if you decide to go to a physical store to make the purchase or pick up, you will have found the best price and saved time and money.  Spend the saved time with your family and watch a great Christmas movie instead. Or catch a nap to rest up.

How about you?  How do you ‘mark’ Christmas personally, and what time savers have you discovered?  How do you make or create down time?

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