February 23, 2017

Present, Presents, Presence: pre-holiday encouragement

Nov11

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As the holidays arrive, stoves simmer, and families reunite, the Most Wonderful Time of the Year resonates in our hearts.

Our desire is to welcome guests to our home with beautifully adorned decorations, deliciously homemade delights and ambiance that rivals “It’s a Wonderful Life’s” final scene. Yet that goal, if not kept into balance, leads to…holiday stress.

I know we’ve all felt the pressure to pull off the perfect holiday, and yet I’ve been more convicted than ever that our family, our friends, even our one child who sits under the tree every night shaking their wrapped gifts don’t crave our presents nearly as much as they crave our presence.

A few years ago, our family strategically starting clearing out unnecessary things from our schedule during the month of December. We were missing out on just “being” because we were so busy going, doing, going, doing. Doing “good things”, I might add, but things that distracted us from the beauty, simplicity and wonder that surrounded the holidays.

I realized it was impossible for me to please everyone, but I was responsible for how I helped engage my family in memory making times together, as well as pointing them to our Savior.

Now we spend a lot of cozy times during December with special traditions and heritage building choices that are solidifying a strong generational legacy. As the boys have gone off to college, those times together over the breaks are more special than ever.

So do I still extend authentic hospitality? Yes. Stressful Entertaining? No.

Do I attempt to create meaningful, memory making moments they’ll remember years from now? Yes. Spend a lot of money on them? No!

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Those simple traditions that you weave into your family’s tapestry year after year are what they’ll always remember when they think back on family time. I invite you to scroll through my archives of the many  traditions that we’ve incorporated over the years. Just pick one or two and start small to make an impact like creating Blessing Baskets, Meals for the refugees or something fun like Christmas Cruising or Caroling.

Earlier this year, I partnered with my bank,  SunTrust, as they launched their onUp Movement to inspire millions of Americans to take a step forward toward financial confidence, to spend more time focusing on the moments that matter and not on financial stress. (They’ve included a plethora of great financial insight.)

We’re entering into the season of financial stress and right now, we have the opportunity to avoid it. One of the most shocking statistics I came across was that 90% of people buy things they can not afford. Simply put, nine out of ten of you reading this post will make purchases over the next six weeks that you should not buy. This is where that comparison trap gets us every time.

Especially when I procrastinate and get frenzied those last few shopping days, the tendency is to start buying without really thinking through purchases.

Let’s be intentional this holiday season about rethinking our Holiday Generoisty.  Let’s remind ourselves that relationships are always more important than “stuff.”

When the New Year’s Ball drops and 2017 rings through with our finances in tact, consumer debt avoided, and special memories made, we will be so thankful that we prioritized presence over unnecessary presents.

SunTrust has provided a detailed budgeting worksheet to plan your holiday spending. You can print it or they’ve done all the work for you in spread sheet form for you to access it here. It includes everything from gas for travel, holiday décor, and even charitable donations. Budgeting is my dreaded “B” word, but it’s so critical and you know how I feel about every dollar needing a job.

They also have a Holiday Planning Guide here with tips for getting organized and making a plan for holiday spending so you can feel confident in your ability to stay on track with your budget. You’ll see how other Americans are shopping, traveling, celebrating and giving in ways that make the holidays cost less, but mean more. Such great information.

I’d love to hear if you’ve started planning for the holidays yet? Are you doing anything new this year? (I’m typically a procrastinator but I want to get a jump start on any gift buying because it’s critical for the holiday budget.)

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At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.

The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.

Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.

Join the movement

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.


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