If you’re anything like the average American family, this is likely what your Christmas to-do list looks like this time of year:

  • String up the lights
  • Decorate the tree
  • Finish the Christmas Shopping
  • Send out the Christmas Cards
  • Attend the company Christmas Party

And on, and on, and on. There’s no denying that during the Christmas season, our calendars can be taken over by the fun of tradition and celebration. But in the hustle and bustle, sometimes it’s easy to feel that we’re getting spread too thin- finding ourselves doing more but enjoying less with each passing day.  

But what if this holiday season, we were to focus more on being, rather than doing? What if, even in the midst of the tradition, we could still find an opportunity to make the most of the most important things we’ve been given: our relationships.  

Whether with friends, family, spouses, parents, or children, the holidays can be a special time to rekindle meaningful relationships, if we take the time for it. In preparation of the holiday season, here are some suggestions for making the most of your relationships.  

Focus on Who You Have in Your Life: It’s important to keep in mind that just as joyous as the holidays can be, for many people, they are a time of heartache and pain. They are an aching reminder of relationships that have been broken or loved ones that were lost or longings that have not yet been fulfilled. Sometimes, it’s hard to connect when you are feeling hurt and alone. Making the most of our relationships during the holidays requires a shift in thinking that causes us to focus on the people God has placed in our lives here and now.  

Time passes so quickly, and every year is one less year we’ll have to invest in the ones we love. Rather than wishing for what could be, it’s important to begin savor what actually is: the sleepless little baby in your arms, the kids running wildly around the house, the chaos of the teen years, the college students that have left an empty nest, the daughter you just led down the aisle, the aging parents who are growing frailer with each passing day. Through it’s true that every season of life comes with its blessings and it’s struggles, it’s important to make the most of the blessings. This holiday season, be deliberate to be thankful for the people in your life.

Invest in Relationships, Not Things: As a mom of two little children, I know how easy it can be to get caught up in the stuff of life. We buy into the lie that our children need more and more things to be happy and well-adjusted. We want to see the smiles on their faces as they open their gifts, eat their goodies, and dig into their stockings. While it’s okay to enjoy these moments, we must not allow ourselves to be consumed by them.  

We can get so caught up in the things that we can fail to remember that the real blessings in our lives are the relationships we’ve been given- our relationship with God, and our relationship with others. More than anything, the Holidays are about experiencing God’s love; a God who loved us so much that He left His world to join us in ours. He reached down with His love and grace to connect with us, and to bring us a Savior. Making the most out of the holidays means that we take the time to relish in the love of God, and then allow it to overflow from our lives and into the lives of those around us. According to God’s word, that’s really what life comes down to: loving God, and loving others.

Rather than becoming consumed in things this time of year, let us take the opportunity to engage relationships. Let’s focus more on being together, rather than giving things to one another; on loving each other with our actions and our words, not just with our money. Because at the end of the day, the greatest gift that we can really give is our love.