The Wisdom in Giving Up


Our tree decorated by my boys.

Our culture doesn’t promote throwing in the towel. We discourage our children from walking away from a task too difficult, a sport they decide they don’t care for, quitting piano lessons in the middle of a school year. They hear, “Suck it up. Tough it out. Don’t be a wuss.”

When it comes to Christmas, I’m over it. I’m choosing, very deliberately, to give up. The Christmas lights aren’t making it on the roof of the house this year? Oh, well. Hmm, I didn’t get the Christmas cards together? There’s always next year. It’s already the 10th of December and I still haven’t filled the advent bags with anything? Maybe next Christmas. We’ve only made one batch of cookies? The scale will thank us. Our tree is loaded with ornaments at the bottom because the kids decorated it? Glory hallelujah, I didn’t have to do it by myself.

We need to stop apologizing for what we don’t or can’t get around to during the Christmas season. I put myself in that statement. Why do we feel the need to say, “I’m sorry,” when we don’t meet some ethereal expectation we set for ourselves?

Just for one example, I think the Elf on the Shelf is a great idea (unlike some of my friends I do enjoy the pics on Facebook of his crazy antics), but the thought of having to find a new place to put him each night nearly gives me hives. So, I opt out. If you love the guy nightmares are made of the cute little rascal, then by all means go for it. If it adds an inordinate amount of frustration to your life then don’t participate in the insanity fun.

Sometimes it feels good to give up. The pressure to perform, look good, have an idyllic scenario is gone. Life is messy in general, so why wouldn’t Christmas be, too? The first one certainly held less than ideal circumstances.

In a recent blog post, Ann Voskamp (author of One Thousand Gifts) eloquently revealed why she hung one of her Christmas trees upside down, and here is what she said about it:

“We’re hanging Christmas upside down this year so real love falls out of it.

We’re hanging Christmas upside down this year so no one gets hanged by debt.

We’re hanging Christmas upside down this year because we’re giving the whole Christmas season to Jesus and His Upside Down Kingdom, not just some tossed crusty edge of it.

Because we can feel it — how we’re done with the malls and missing Jesus.

We are done with busy Christmases and brushing past Christ.

We are done with over-stuffed Christmases and we are desperate to give the gift of being overcome by Christ.

You can get tired enough that you’re ready for a Christmas revolution.”

Whatever it takes, friends, give yourself some breathing room. Shut off Pinterest if you need to, if it makes you feel less than. Cut back on your buying. Give gifts from the heart, not just what you feel has to be the “perfect” gift. Hang your Christmas tree upside down if that’s what it takes to remind yourself to not run yourself ragged.

This is our second year of doing less, and my husband commented that he has enjoyed the season far more the last two years. Funny how less can equal more.

So, enjoy the season. Take the pressure off. Savor some moments sipping cocoa from a package instead of from scratch next to your poorly decorated tree while the kids scream in the background. I, personally, wouldn’t have it any other way.



2 thoughts on “The Wisdom in Giving Up

  1. No lights on our house this year either. I’m trying to remember it’s more about spending time with my little one and making memories. It’s true…there is always next year!

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