This time of year, many of us are thrilled to see the Halloween hype die down at last. However, flipping the calendar toward November means we’re also nearing the busy holiday season, as Thanksgiving and Christmas draw near. Just take a stroll through your local grocery and you’ll find aisles already filled with candy canes and Santa Claus window clings.

How can a Christian family stay true to their priorities even while pressure mounts to shop and bake and decorate?

In a nutshell—think Jesus first.

What does that mean? Well, whenever you’re tempted to give in to the demands of the season, ask yourself—where is Jesus in this activity?

When the PTO taps you to volunteer for the annual Christmas teacher luncheon—is Jesus a part of your motivation? Are you feeling pressured into another to-do or is the Lord impressing on your heart a willingness to serve?

When your mother-in-law asks you to do her gift shopping for the grandkids—is Jesus your companion to the mall? Are you fighting the stress of family dynamics or is Jesus giving you the freedom to love the people He placed in your sphere?

And when you’re barking at the kids to stop tangling all the tree lights together while you sort through boxes of ornaments—where is Jesus then? Is He standing among you, urging you to count your blessings and look to the sky, where your help comes from (Psalm 121)?

The issue isn’t even so much how busy we become. It’s about where our focus lies as we do the many things required of us throughout the holiday season. Yes, we need to attend family gatherings and school programs and gift exchange events. We enjoy touring Christmas light shows and baking cutout cookies and scouring Amazon for the perfect present. Those aren’t bad things! But they aren’t the main thing.

Jesus is.

So this holiday season, let’s focus on finding Him in everything we do. Then by the time Christmas rolls around, our hearts will be in the right place, and we can truly enjoy the season for what it is—a celebration of faith, and of God’s amazing love.