I am a list maker. I love those super-sticky-lined “Post It” notes because I can make a list and stick it to the fridge, the dash of the van, the front of my Sunday School book, and even the binder for my not so organized child. I like a good list, and I like to see it.

At this time of year, my lists are screaming at me to clean, decorate, wrap, pack, mail, bake, and on and on. My lists have reached epic proportions, because I am just organized enough to know I don’t have the time or energy to make it all happen. After a couple of deep breaths, I remembered a suggestion from my favorite magazine. “Make an ignore list.”

I collected my lists from all over the house and immediately transferred several items to the ignore list. Carefully, I went back over the list and asked,

  • Do I want to do this?
  • Do I have to do this, or can someone else do it?
  • Does anyone, other than me, care if this gets done?

I was surprised by the number of items that had slipped onto the list that I don’t even want to do. Why am I constructing a stand-up cut out for the kindergarten class? I don’t want to do that. I don’t how to do that! Next, I found several items that the girls can easily do. Certainly the girls can dust their rooms and vacuum. And then best of all, I identified items that only I care about. Some of these items I will do because I want to do them. I want to send Christmas cards and include a greeting for friends. Other items, such as hanging outdoor Christmas lights, are on the ignore list. If I am the only one who genuinely cares if it gets done, then I am going to be decisive about whether or not to complete the task.

So after making a list and checking it twice, I have discerned what gives me joy and shines light in my Advent season. And I have noted the tasks that consume time but bring no peace. During Advent, we should seek light over darkness. We should give graciously rather than through hurried obligation. We should walk in the spirit of joy and peace. When we give ourselves the gifts of joy and peace, we can freely share with others.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.