Holiday Boundaries: Eliminating Chaos

Every year we put up our Christmas Tree on Black Friday. Our house has stupid tall ceilings in the main living area, and my yearly goal is to get a tree that’s just a little bigger than last year’s–until eventually, the tree will touch the ceiling. 

Christmas Tree in our living room

I’m not exactly sure how tall our tree is this year, but I know we had to get a 10 ft ladder to decorate the top part and to put the star on the tippy top.

We always drink cocoa and watch a Christmas movie while we decorate, and this year, the family decided on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation–and my husband quoted ¾ of it. Now, I have a confession to make here. 

I’m not a huge fan of classic Christmas movies.

I hate Elf.

Not a big fan of the Grinch.

Love Die Hard, though–that’s a Christmas movie, right?!?!

I digress.

We were watching Christmas Vacation and decorating the tree, and I had forgotten the chaos in that house during the few days we see of their Christmas Season.

While I was laughing on the outside, part of me was cringing a little on the inside.

So much of this season can be complete and utter chaos.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never fried a cat on Christmas lights, tried to cut down a pine tree and sent it through the neighbors’ window, had Cousin Eddie kidnap my boss, or even eaten cat food in my jello.


But, I’m not a stranger to the chaos that comes with the Christmas Season.

I’m guilty of overscheduling.

I’m guilty of opening my house to everyone and their brother.

I’m guilty of volunteering and overcommitting to way too much.

I’m definitely guilty of trying to meet everyone’s needs and make everyone happy.

As we find ourselves inching closer and closer to the chaotic times of the season, I think we need to take a deep breath, look at our calendars, and make some tough decisions that will help to eliminate the chaos for us or at least keep it to a minimum.

stressed out man

Be Still.

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I struggle with the most during this season is taking the time to actually stop, breathe, and think about my commitments and stressors.

Here’s what I know: my day runs much more smoothly if I take time to be still in the morning before I get into the meat of my day.

I get up and do all the morning things: drink my coffee til my synapses are actually firing, try not to get depressed by the news, get on the treadmill and watch some drama while I walk, shower, and fix breakfast.

This all happens before my day actually starts, preferably before 9. Now, listen, I can absolutely confirm that I feel this very human urge to jump right into my day. I’ve already been up for several hours and feel like I’ve accomplished nothing at this point, even though the logical side of my brain says that’s ridiculous. 

I don’t jump in, though. 

I know better.

 I sit back down with my devotion, my journal, and my fancy pens, and I write out my thoughts, prayers, and ideas. It usually only takes me 15-30 minutes to release everything I’ve pent up and to invite into every aspect of my day, my words, my writing, and to listen.

I need to be still.

I need to breathe.

Psalm 46:8-10 (TPT) says:

 Everyone look!

Come and see the breathtaking wonders of our God.

For he brings both ruin and revival.

He’s the one who makes conflicts end

throughout the earth,

breaking and burning every weapon of war.

Surrender your anxiety. 

Be still and realize that I am God.

I am God above all the nations,

and I am exalted throughout the whole earth.

God is the ender of conflicts, the easer of anxiety. We struggle to experience those blessings if we are too busy to sit ourselves down, be still, and recognize that God is God.

This is a season of such joy and peace, but if we aren’t careful with our time, it can turn into a season of complete and utter chaos in a blink of an eye.

During this time, I pray that you can commit 15-30 minutes of your morning to this practice and be amazed at how you see God working to alleviate your conflicts and ease your anxiety.

journal open with a pen

Identify Your Stressors:

So, listen, as I’ve grown older and a little wiser, I’ve come to some unpopular conclusions in my life. For example, I love a good tradition just as much as the next guy, but I firmly believe that just because something has always been done a particular way does not mean it needs to continue to be done that way.

Let that sink in for a minute.

If it isn’t working, don’t continue to do it.

When I was younger, my family used to spend Christmas Eve with my mom’s parents and all the family associated with them.

We all brought pizza, did one of those extremely time-consuming gift exchanges, and ended up going home way too late, way too full, and completely over-stimulated.

It worked.

Until it didn’t.

Eventually, our family got way too big and there were way too many little ones who needed to actually sleep on Christmas Eve.

Do you know what we did?

We quit doing it.

Because it was time.

Was it weird for the first years?


Was it for the best?


tangled Christmas lights

So, let me ask you this: do you have family, church, and/or friend traditions that just really aren’t working anymore? Are there plans and events that do nothing but cause stress and anxiety for you or the rest of the people involved?

If there are, then let me be the first to encourage you to change them.

I know there are some of you who are probably thinking, “but, Kristen, you don’t my family….” and you know what? You are absolutely right!  But, you do!  So, you have to think about what is best for the people within your four walls.

Those people matter the most.

If you are so stressed out about your family get-together that you can’t even focus on sweet baby Jesus while you’re at church for the Christmas Eve service, then I’m going to have to say that sweet baby Jesus would want something to change for you.

If you are so bitter as you sit in church on Christmas morning because of the amount of money you were forced to spend on your in-laws this year, like every year, then again, I’m thinking God would want you to make a change! (I love my in-laws–this is not biographical. LOL)

Hebrews 12:15 (TPT) says “Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.”

I know we want to read those verses and think that they mean we should simply not harbor bitterness, and yes, that is what they’re saying. But, we have to think a little deeper about those verses too. If there is something in our lives that is making us bitter, we have to address it. So, this holiday season, if there are things that are affecting you negatively and sowing seeds of bitterness, then I encourage you to find a solution to them, to find a way to remove yourself from the situation or to identify what it is about the event, person, etc that is resulting in your own bitterness.

So, you’re probably thinking, this is great advice, but how am I supposed to implement these boundaries and not lose all my family and friends? 

Great question!

Tune in next week! I’ll be talking about implementing boundaries in a healthy, loving, and Godly way!

Until Next Time,



  1. How can I make time in my daily routine to be still, breathe, and let God be God?
  2. What are some stressors that aren’t working that I need to change?

Scripture for Reflection:

Psalm 46

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