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Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas

Christmas means so much to me. It’s the gatherings with good friends. Reconnecting with family members, near and far. Relishing the rich, aromatic fragrance of a freshly cut fir tree. Christmas music playing softly. Sipping coffee—fireside. The thrill of shimmering lights all around and being amazed how the twinkle in my granddaughter’s eyes outshines them all. It’s the excitement of creating our traditional ginger bread house—that (sometimes) looks more like a dilapidated shack. It’s embracing flashback memories of her father, his brother, and sister on the bar-stools beside me. It’s the joy of reliving each moment of my own children’s lives, as she carefully embellishes it with candy gone wild while slinging powdered sugar (snow) like confetti-exactly the way her father did years ago.


I especially appreciate sweet Christmas time for offering me a free, personal pass to enjoy limitless sugary deliciousness I’d otherwise feel guilty indulging myself in.

Regardless of my sweet Christmas memories past, the overwhelming preparations of Christmas present often robs my joy.

What about you, friend?
I think most of us become overwhelmed as Christmas Day tip toes its way across our jam-packed schedules, tapping us on the shoulder, as if to say: Surprise! Ready or not, here I come! No matter how overwhelming, or how excited we are, we all know:

Christmas celebrations don’t just happen magically. Christmas celebrations happen because someone took the time to carefully plan and prepare.

Oh sure, some of us are well-planned preparers—making it look so easy. Some procrastinate—preparing absolutely nothing ahead of time only to panic over last minute demands.
It’s no easy task to drag the gazillion stored boxes of decorations down from the attic. It takes time to decorate the table, the mantle, the tree, and ourselves for the party that’s happening TONIGHT! Eikkkk!

Remember, messes must be made—before beauty is displayed!

From my twenty-seven years of experience as a designer I’ve found chaos in some of the most elegantly decorated homes. I’ve seen beauty overshadowed by bad attitudes of a stressed and exhausted hostess. And, truthfully, I have been the stressed out, undone hostess—more times than I want to admit. Because of this, I’m happy to share a bit of wisdom I’m learning along the way. Wisdom to ease the stress and hopefully bring calm to the chaos.
This holiday season:

• Plan ahead – not only does planning clear our cluttered minds, putting a plan of action into place helps to prepare both our homes and our hearts for Christmas

• Be sure to take a little time to rest and renew, to reflect and remember…  

• Prepare to bless others with all God has given you

• Remember what an honor it is to have a home, to display contentment, to create a peaceful environment where those you love can find true rest for their souls

• Pray your guest leave feeling better about themselves than about YOU

• Remember, it doesn’t matter if you live in a mobile home, or a mansion. Plan to      embrace the season by intentionally celebrating the gift of life and love

• Bake until your hearts content. But, be sure to stop at a reasonable time, and get proper rest

• Take a little time out of your ‘crazy’ to sip your favorite cup of tea, or Java as you write your “to-do” lists

• Set reasonable goals for daily tasks in preparation for Christmas traditions, otherwise you will find yourself completely undone and overwhelmed

• Reward yourself for your hard work by soaking in a nice, warm, bath at the end of your preparation day/s

• As you decorate each nook and cranny – rearranging, embellishing, even purging random unnecessary things – ask God to decorate, rearrange, embellish, and purge your heart and mind

• Don’t compare your home with others. Instead, do what you can with what you have been given

• Reflect on the past year and celebrate what God has done in your life and in the lives of those you love

• Think about how good God has been to your family in the past, as you unpack each decoration

• When you find broken pieces in bottom of storage bins, thank God for healing the broken pieces of your heart and for carrying you through each season of life you have faced, thus far

• Make every obstacle an opportunity to express gratitude and in doing so you will prepare your heart to embrace the fullness of Christmas joy

• Be true to YOU. Don’t strive to do Christmas just like everyone else; there is no one else like YOU! 
• Surround yourself with the things you love. (candles, books, music,  etc…)

• Use colors that make your heart sing to decorate with

• Be creative.

No matter how elegant I try to decorate my home, my favorite ornaments are those my children made in elementary school. I smile each time I hang the scraggly button bracelet my daughter made when she was only four years old celebrate the creative, godly woman she has become. I sometime tear up when I see the wooden cross my oldest son made and thank God his dreams of becoming a contractor and builder came true. I giggle as I hang the raggedy, one-eyed, paper reindeer my adventurous, youngest son made in kindergarten, right next to more elegant ornaments; yet, I marvel how much more valuable these are to me. My eclectic approach to Christmas decorating works perfectly for me, blending old and new, past and present—helping me stay true to the things that make me feel alive with wonder during Christmas. I wish the same for you.

Prepare a Christmas that works for you and your family and be at peace with it!Whether you choose to eat out at your favorite restaurant on Christmas, or make everything from scratch. Be proactive in preparing your heart to experience less stress, more peace of mind, and maximized quality time with those you love.
As you blend your old, your new, your past and present, may you look forward to the brand new future Almighty God has for you. So, celebrate the gift of God’s one and only son, Jesus, who entered the world with a plan to make our hearts His home. His love prepares, equips, and strengthens us for every unknown tomorrow.

I would love to hear how you prepared your hearts for Christmas. Please be sure to share your comments, so others can be inspired by your wisdom, too!

Merry Christmas with Love,  
LaTan

Pictures are original designs by: Interior Elegance by LaTan/LaTan Murphy LLC

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