Whether you’re spending this holiday season in maternity pants or your first set of matching pajamas, odds are this year is looking far different from those prior. While its easy to get caught up in the consumer driven rat-race we call the holidays, easy to be offended by the “eating for two” dinner comments, and equally easy to be consumed by postpartum anxiety at the sight of your baby being passed around like the sweet potato side dish; you are encouraged to take this season to establish traditions that are intentional and unique to your family.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of societal pressure that suggests busyness equals importance, and the value found in monetary gifts depicts the depth of ones love. These traps are disguised as the “magic of Christmas” and the “gift of giving”; however, let us suggest that these are often the very forces used to distract us from the true reason for the season and any semblance of true intentionality. While there is nothing inherently wrong with Christmas parades, tree lightings, or even gift giving; its when we allow these to consume our attention and control our attitude throughout the season. Its a humbling task to step back and evaluate one’s motivation in participating in the chaos of Christmas festivities, because often the motivation to participate comes from the expectations of those around us and the need to keep up.

Rather than exhausting our schedules, wallets, and spirit in the name of making memories, let us reevaluate our priorities and establish our own set of traditions with intention. Let us look at the holiday season through the lens of contentment and thanksgiving, truly relishing the blessings we’ve been entrusted with and enjoying the simple presence of the moment. Our children will adopt our perspective and values; whether we chose materialism or contentment, busyness or presence, they will mimic our attitudes. Maybe this looks like replacing the toyland under the tree with the five intentional gifts (something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to share, something to read) and maybe its prioritizing family time by reading the Christmas story during Advent, or maybe its simply declining invitations that would take you away from your family during this season. Ultimately we would encourage you to challenge the societal norms, spirit of busyness, and the trap of consumerism; trading these for intentional presence and the prioritizing of your family, and let that be a tradition each year to follow.