Holiday meals are upon us, so I’ve made my list and I’m checking it twice:

Mashed Potatoes (the Make Ahead recipe),  Cider Baked Turkey (purchase the juice), Butterhorn Rolls (for Gratitude Rolls),  Pumpkin Bars, and I must remember to cut out the card stock for the Leaves of Thanks tradition.

Yet everyday I feel as if I am rushing ten steps forward and twelve steps back. Between work, laundry, clutter, wedding plans (our second son is getting married this week), kids, my Becoming Ministries non-profit launch, and then always the “What’s for dinner question?”

For years, I’ve been a huge proponent of my tongue in cheek phrase: “The ministry of making you feel better about yourself.” Today’s disclosure is that I’ve worn the same cute (and still smelling fresh) outfit three days in a row because I knew that each day I’d encounter different people.

How has this happened? I idled in neutral for an entire year, and then suddenly I flipped into fast forward by doing exactly what I vowed not to. Instead of fighting for margin, I pack my calendar. Instead of pursing intentional time, I allow the mediocrity of my moments creep in and steal my joyful bandwidth. Amidst my multitasking, I wake up worried, wondering what items fell through the cracks. And that’s the last thing I desire as we step into these upcoming celebratory months.

My heart beats faster as I type, announcing that it’s time for me to push back, to reclaim more uncomplicated moments, to remember the beauty in a wise “no” and think through my whys with calendar decisions. Even though last year held stressors and struggles, I also stepped into a rhythm of simple pleasures that I hadn’t embraced in years. Baking scones and cinnamon rolls to share with others, slow candlelit morning devotions, learning about cut flower gardening, and lingering at the dinner table amidst powerful conversations topped a few of my favorite things.

Can you reminisce about last Thanksgiving and Christmas season? Knee deep in the unknown impacts of the pandemic, many of us still experienced the slowest, most simple holiday season in years. With parties canceled, guest lists scrunched, money saved, and evenings at home, we contemplated how to maintain this simple rhythm once mandates lifted.

So as the temptation looms to rush and ready ourselves for upcoming festivities, let’s push back against packed calendars filled with unnecessary stress and savor the celebratory moments we are creating.

Since November and December are months focused on feeding people well, let’s do more than feed tummies. Let’s remember to feed their souls, their hearts, their imagination, their creativity. I’ll start the list:

  1. Feed gratitude. As I nurture this quality, joy thrives and priories realign.

  2. Feed flexibility. Our best laid plans may not happen. Guests will be late. Food will get cold, but in the bigger scheme of things, it’s nothing. I open my hands and offer up my attempted control.

  3. Feed patience (lots of it). We live in a world of tension. Be the balm. “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel” (Proverbs 15:18).

  4. Feed laughter. There’s nothing better than cultivating an atmosphere of deep belly laughing after a satisfying meal. Laugh so hard that tears run down your legs — kidding but not.

  5. Feed contentment. With all the Black Friday sales, it’s difficult to remember the balance of need vs. want. We truly have everything we need.

  6. Feed compassion. Even though Old Aunt Sue has shared (probably rambled) the same story for the fifteenth time, make her feel as if it is the first. When we make her the star of the show for just one day, we uplift and encourage her in ways that no one has in a long time.

  7. Feed encouragement. We’re fragile. A blessed word makes hearts soar.

  8. Feed forgiveness. This is the year. Many of us have carried bitterness especially over disagreements about the last nineteen months. Lay our heaviness at His feet and let Him carry it. Extend forgiveness; experience freedom.

  9. Feed hospitality. Loneliness and isolation thrive. Be that solution for one person this month. Open your door, welcome the stranger, save a seat at your table, and extend the gift of your invitation. In doing so, you ease their burden as you share Christ’s love.

When the turkey is gone and the mashed potatoes are cold, all that is left are the shared moments and memories of doing life together. I want to make the most of them, don’t you?

My little note card on my fridge reminds me, Feed them. Won’t you join me and jot down the same?