Simplifying My December To-Do

Today I’m celebrating my friend Rachel Olsen and her new book “My One Word,” co-authored with her pastor Mike Ashcraft.  “My One Word” was released just this week, and I’m thrilled to let you know that Rachel is giving away a copy of her book to one of my blog readers!

I’ll tell you how to enter at the bottom of the post.  But first I want you to hear from Rachel’s heart.  She has some wonderful advice to share.

Here’s Rachel …


It seemed like once I had kids, trying to do the holidays “well” sent me into mach warp speed.

And into virtual hiding come December 26th.

There were fun traditions to do. Decorating the tree together. Baking Christmas cookies. Making gingerbread houses. Opening an Advent calendar. Stringing popcorn or cranberries. Watching Christmas movies with hot cocoa. Caroling. Hand-stamping Christmas cards. And fun events to attend: parades, tree lighting ceremonies, Christmas pageants, and neighborhood parties.

It was enough to run me ragged. Did I mention both my kids’ birthdays are in December as well?

After three or four years of a crazy December schedule, I finally wised up. I stopped assuming that all these activities were equally important to us having a good holiday. The following year I presented my family with a verbal list of things we normally do or could do during December. Then I asked each person to tell me which activity was the most important to them.

Armed with their answers, I made a point to schedule those things on the family calendar in pen. That gave me peace of mind that each family member would enjoy the holidays. Anything else I/we found the time to do, I considered celebration-icing on the cake.

I’ve watched their answers to the question change over the years. For a couple of years my daughter most wanted to make gingerbread men. One year she most wanted to see the Nutcracker. Now she most wants to dress up and go to her aunt’s house for Christmas brunch. For a while my son most wanted to see the train sets at a local Christmas festival. This year he most wants us to watch Christmas movies together. My husband this year most wants to share a fancy restaurant meal.

By asking the what-is-most-important-to-you question I’ve simplified our December schedule while ensuring that each person gets to do their most treasured holiday activity. And I think doing that one special thing has become more special for all of us because it’s not jammed in among a long to-do list.

Traditions can be meaningful and comforting —totally worth the effort they take to carry out year after year.  But if a particular tradition isn’t important to at least one member of your family, I want to give you permission to let it go.  At least until the year someone asks for it back.



Thank you, Rachel.  This is wonderful advice, especially as we enter the last weekend before Christmas.  It’s not too late to find that one thing each family wants to do (so long as it’s reasonable).

Speaking of one thing, that must be a theme for Rachel, because it’s the theme of her newest book, co-authored with her pastor Mike Ashcraft.  One person will win a copy of “My One Word” today.  Can you guess what I’m going to ask you to do?  I thought you could.  :-)

To enter, simply leave a comment with one word!  That’s it.  I’ll leave this open until Sunday and announce a winner on Monday.  Oh, and please come back tomorrow for a post by Karen Ehman with some great last-minute gift ideas and another give away!

Rachel Olsen is an author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. This December her schedule includes a new book releasing: My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word.  She will be doing a “Family Christmas Movie Night,” making reservations at Rick’s favorite restaurant, praying together by the tree, and dressing up for a family brunch on Christmas day.  Find her also blogging at



  1. says


    (I also wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading Rachel’s article in the P31 Woman magazine that I just received. I love how she said she thought about her one word, talked about it, journaled with it, and prayed about it. I hadn’t heard that method of using the one word before. Thanks, Rachel, for the fresh revelation on using our “one word.”)

    • BettyAnn says

      BethA, this was my first thought as well! For me it’s because NOTHING that sounds so simple when I read it is simple in my house! Start with 8 kids, still home schooling 5 of them, add basketball season for 6 of them (the ONLY outside activity ~ I do try to keep it simple!), and mix in the normal year-end workload for 2 parents who are both accountants (Dad full-time, Mom part-time from home). If we did NOTHING for Christmas it still wouldn’t be simple! I don’t know your reasons for choosing “discouraged”; they could be far more significant and serious than mine. I’m just hoping you are encouraged to know that you’re not the only one struggling with that feeling this morning; that I’m praying for you right now, and though my prayers are weak, our God is almighty, He loves you more than you can know, and He’s holding in the palm of His hand; that if you do only ONE thing to celebrate the birth of His son, something as simple as reading the stories of His coming, your family will be blessed with wonderful memories of His love ~ and yours!

  2. Remedios Tabernero says

    To me, “my one word” would be “TIME”. I realized that my time is very precious, running so fast, it is numbered by my Creator and I need to become a wise steward of the time that God has given to me. I pray that God will help me make use of my time very well to accomplish His purpose why He had created me. That is to spend my quality time with my Savior – reading His Word, praying, singing praises and studying. Spend quality time with my family – doing household chores, interacting with them and doing fun together, especially with my grandchildren. Also giving time with friends and those who needs my advice and encouragements, as well as praying for my church family’s concerns.

  3. Remedios Tabernero says

    “My one word” would be “TIME”. Since our time is precious and numbered by God, so we ought to be good stewards of our time.


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