31 days prayer challengeNever mind the fact that the calendar still says it’s October and it was still warm enough for me to wear sandals today–according to the stores, it’s time for Christmas.

Last night I was doing some (non-holiday) shopping and it seemed like at every store I went in I was bombarded with holiday gift suggestions. It was hard to focus on my list of items I need now and not be distracted by holiday bargains everywhere I turned. In fact, I did end up buying a small Christmas gift for each of my nieces, having been lured in by a good sale.

With each store I went in, I felt a growing urgency to start tackling my Christmas shopping. Most years I do try to get as much of it done by Thanksgiving so that I can avoid most stores between Black Friday and New Year’s. But if I’m not careful, I’ll start snatching up items just because they’re good buys and not necessarily because they’re good gift ideas, or I’ll completely lose track of what I buy and end up spending WAY too much.

By the time I got in my car to head home, I was feeling a bit stressed out over the thought of the looming Christmas season and all the shopping chaos that ensues. I began to pray that this would be a different season for me–that I would not get stressed out over finding the “perfect” gifts for my loved ones or try to cram all my shopping in by a certain date. Rather, I want this to be a peaceful season that I can actually enjoy, even enjoying the act of thoughtfully choosing gifts that I think the recipients will truly like and not just buying something because it’s too good a deal to pass up. It would be great if I’m able to finish my shopping by Thanksgiving, but I don’t want to work myself into a frenzy trying to get it done and miss out on the joy of giving.

Furthermore, I want to spend more time on the truly important aspects of Christmas–celebrating Christ’s birth with my family, my church family and my friends–than I do agonizing over whether someone would prefer a blue scarf or a red one. I do enjoy giving gifts to the people I love, but sometimes I depend more on giving material gifts rather than the gift of my time.

I don’t think it’s too early for me to start praying for a peaceful, meaningful, joy-filled Christmas season. The stores certainly don’t think it’s too soon to prepare for Christmas, so I might as well, too.

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This post is one in a series on prayer as part of the 31 Days Challenge. Read more posts in the series here.

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