Season 6 Sweet Selah Moments Podcast, Sweet Selah Moments Podcast

Episode 93 – A Sweet Selah Simple Christmas

Season 6 Sweet Selah Moments Podcast
Season 6 Sweet Selah Moments Podcast
Episode 93 - A Sweet Selah Simple Christmas

Christmas is upon us and we could easily drown in great ideas. There are gourmet chocolates that could be made and parties that could be arranged and exquisitely wrapped presents suggested in magazines and on Pinterest. Great ideas are on display everywhere. Not to mention all the fabulous ways to keep Christ in Christmas with the way you celebrate with your family. How in the world does one keep Christmas simple? Join Sharon and Nicole for some advice on doing the ONE thing well. Let’s make wise choices this Christmas so we can be “all there” to enjoy the holiday season and truly take time to marvel at a Savior come to earth as a tiny baby because of His great love for us.

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Read the transcript for A Sweet Selah Simple Christmas-Episode 93

Merry Christmas, Sweet Selah friends. Sit for a moment and reflect with us as we study God’s Word and the very first Christmas. We are so glad you’re here.

This Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is brought to you by Sweet Selah Ministries and WORD Radio.

Nicole (00:01):

Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. This is episode 93, A Simple Selah Christmas. Sharon and I came to the studio today dressed in Christmas colors, and excited to talk together about celebrating Christmas well. It’s so easy to overdo the holidays and try to cram in so much fun that nothing ends up being that much fun at all. Sharon, do you remember some hectic Christmas times in the past?

Sharon (00:24):

I sure do, and boy, did you just not speak truth there. We can cram so much fun in it ceases to be fun. (Nicole: Oh, yeah) Isn’t that the saddest thing?

Nicole (00:32):

I know.

Sharon (00:33):

Oh my goodness. Well, I remember specifically a year when we were living near West Point. Ray was a professor of West Point Cadets and completing a doctoral dissertation, which meant basically I did Christmas alone. (Nicole: Oh, yeah) All the decorating, the cards, the food, the present buying and wrapping, all the things. (Nicole: Mm-hmm.) He was just, you know, treading water, trying to stay afloat with all he was doing. But, two things stand out to me about that Christmas. First of all, somehow I ended up deciding I had to make Snow White dresses in pink and purple, the colors my girls wanted, with incredibly complex patterns, and I was a terrible sewer. I had to have my neighbors over all the time, and I had to do it after the girls were in bed. So I was up until like, one in the morning making these Snow White dresses.

Nicole (01:23):

Oh, wow.

Sharon (01:23):

And that was also the year that I decided they had to have an expensive Fisher-Price kitchen set.

Nicole (01:29):

Oh, yes.

Sharon (01:29):

Because they would love it. I was just so sure they would love it. As it turns out, they’d rather cook in the kitchen with me, so they did not love it, but I thought they would. So, anyways, very stressful in every way, exhausted by Christmas morning.

Nicole (01:42):

Oh, I bet.

Sharon (01:43):

Tuck them into bed that night and say, what was your favorite present? And they said, the chapstick that was in the stockings. I’m like, are you kidding me? The thing that cost 99 cents and took no work and effort on my part at all.

Nicole (02:01):

Oh, how funny.

Sharon (02:02):

Yeah, that was, that was the last really hectic Christmas because clearly one just needed to give boxes and chap sticks out and everybody would be happy.

Nicole (02:11):

Oh my goodness. That’s so true. You know what, that same thing happened to me when I was a kid. We got the Fisher-Price kitchen set.

Sharon (02:18):


Nicole (02:19):

My parents were all excited to give it to us, and we played in the box for three days.

Sharon (02:23):

You did not.

Nicole (02:24):

We did, we didn’t even touch the set. My parents returned the kitchen set and gave us a box.

Sharon (02:30):

I love that. Boy. Sometimes we think it’s the expensive things that are gonna do it, and it isn’t.

Nicole (02:35):

I know. I know.

Sharon (02:36):

It really isn’t.

Nicole (02:38):

So now with kids of my own, instead of buying them, you know, big kitchen sets that we don’t play with (Sharon: Uhhuh) it’s easy to get a little crazy with them now because we have family that live super close. (Sharon: Oh yeah) Growing up I was in a military family. We were far away from people and I’m sure that the same was true for you guys as well.

Sharon (02:55):

Yes, yes. We had no relatives around at Christmas, so you’re right. That simplifies it.

Nicole (03:00):

It does.

Sharon (03:00):

You have a ton of relatives around.

Nicole (03:01):

We do. And it’s wonderful, but it can get a little crazy. When the girls were younger, we would try to do all the Christmases in one day. So both grandparents’ houses and ours.

Sharon (03:11):

Oh, my goodness.

Nicole (03:11):

It was exhausting for everybody.

Sharon (03:13):

Yes. Yes.

Nicole (03:14):

So we decided this wasn’t the best way to go about it. And now we do Christmas Eve with one side and Christmas Day with our side, with my family. And then Christmas morning we do our family quiet and together.

Sharon (03:25):

Oh, I love that.

Nicole (03:26):

So it makes it a lot more simple. And then I host Christmas mornings. We’re not bringing the kids everywhere, and I keep the meal incredibly simple.

Sharon (03:33):

Smart girl.

Nicole (03:33):

So we do, um, meatballs in a crock pot. Make meatballs subs and eat leftover cookies. Like really simple or else I’m not gonna wanna host.

Sharon (03:42):

Yeah. Because you wanna enjoy them opening their presents and doing all the things. You don’t wanna be in the kitchen like Martha was. Missing, missing all the fun that Mary was having. Right?

Nicole (03:51):

Yeah, absolutely. So it gives us more time to, you know, play games and laugh and board games and visit.

Sharon (03:56):

Oh, I love that.

Nicole (03:57):

And not be like, oh, I have to get the turkey out. (Sharon: Yes) So for us that’s been a way that we can make it a little bit simpler instead of the crazy hectic.

Sharon (04:04):

I like that. I like that. Yeah. We don’t do turkey for Christmas. The Thanksgiving, is all about the meal. (Nicole: Yes) But, um, Christmas is is more about the family. (Nicole: Yeah) Well, I mean, it’s family around the Thanksgiving table too, but when you add in the presents and all the other stuff you don’t need the fancy meal as well.

Nicole (04:18):

No. You’re tired by then.

Sharon (04:19):

Well, I think that was really smart. So, well, I think all of us really want the same thing at Christmas, Nicole. We wanna enjoy the holiday, find a way to keep the busyness enough in check that we get to savor the rich moments. (Nicole: Yeah) Right. I think we need to talk about the power of the one thing here. (Nicole; Mm-hmm) Kinda like your, ‘and we have meatballs’. That’s, that’s what we have. (Nicole: Yeah) We have meatballs, that kind of idea. But we’re gonna talk about it in each area of Christmas in a little bit. But first of all, I wanna look at the very first Christmas and notice specifically what was simple about it and what was not. Because we’re talking about the Simple Selah Christmases here, so let’s do it.

Nicole (05:03):

Yes. I love that. Wow. We’re going to read the very familiar passage in Luke chapter two, just a few verses at a time with Selah stops to talk about what was simple and what was not. This week and next I’ll start by reading Luke 2:1-5, “The Birth of Jesus. At that time, the Roman Emperor Augustus decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria. All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for the census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who is now expecting a child. (Sharon: Hmm) Well, this part doesn’t sound simple, Sharon. Mary’s pregnant, and now they have to go register themselves at a highly inconvenient time. It’s a long journey. And they don’t know what they’re going to encounter when they get there. We know they encounter a huge amount of people and nowhere cozy to say the night.

Sharon (06:04):

Nowhere cozy at all.

Nicole (06:05):

No. And Mary goes into labor. All of this was completely out of their control and not what they had planned on at all, I bet.

Sharon (06:13):

I bet it wasn’t. I mean, I think Mary probably thought she got to stay home to have her baby.

Nicole (06:18):

I know, here she is on the road,

Sharon (06:20):

Wow. Boy. So, okay, then. Let’s acknowledge right up front that we cannot control all the circumstances surrounding us at Christmas time.

Nicole (06:29):

Mm-hmm. Good point.

Sharon (06:30):

Puppies being born around Christmas, which is happening in your life, is a circumstance that makes it all a little more crazy. And sometimes illness hits and suddenly everyone’s droopy at Christmas. You can’t prevent the flu.

Nicole (06:41):


Sharon (06:42):

Or there’s power outage, you know? Mary and Joseph still got on with it and did the next thing, in obedience to the law. They carried on. And you know what? We can too. God was with them on that journey. No robbers attacked them. Baby Jesus wasn’t born out in a field in the middle of nowhere anyways. At least they got to Bethlehem unharmed and in time for the birth. So here we go. Our first simple suggestion is to receive what you can’t change with good grace. If plans go crazy, continue to do what you can without falling apart knowing God’s got you. We’ve gotta let go of that perfect picture of Christmas. (Nicole: Yes) Because it ruins what is with what could have been an actually perfect this side of heaven.

Nicole (07:27):

It’s not gonna happen.

Sharon (07:28):

It’s not gonna happen.

Nicole (07:29):

We’re always going to be disappointed. Yeah.

Sharon (07:30):

Yes. Why do that to ourselves?

Nicole (07:33):

I don’t know.

Sharon (07:34):

I think we have to just accept the adventure as it comes. Oh, look, the power went out. Cool. Now we’re doing Christmas by candlelight. Yay.

Nicole (07:42):


Sharon (07:42):


Nicole (07:42):

Right. Just roll with it and make the best of it.

Sharon (07:44):

Roll with it. Mary and Joseph had to roll with it. Babies come whether you want them to or not when they’re due. Right? But, I think that’s just a really important life lesson is that things are not gonna go according to plans. So let’s just accept it and move on.

Nicole (07:58):

Yeah. And keep our plans simple so we don’t disappoint ourselves.

Sharon (08:01):

Right. Yeah. So now I’m gonna read our next section, Luke 2:6-7, “And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available to them.” Okay, so this part of the story is simple, right, in terms of, it wasn’t a fancy birth.

Nicole (08:26):


Sharon (08:27):

Mary’s probable desire was to give birth surrounded by the women in her family at home where she was used to (Nicole: And had support) but instead they did at least find a place to lay the baby down, cloth to wrap him in and some sort of shelter from the weather. Uh, no Christmas tree or decorations though, right?

Nicole (08:43):


Sharon (08:45):

But it was a divine moment when God himself became tiny and helpless as a baby. It wasn’t a fancy one. But in that simplicity, was that not still God in flesh (Nicole: I know) that they were looking at?

Nicole (08:59):

How amazing.

Sharon (09:00):

Yeah. The simple was still beautiful.

Nicole (09:03):

It was.

Sharon (09:04):


Nicole (09:04):

Sharon, I think it’s really important for us to remember that we do not need our Christmas to be fancy, for it to be beautiful.

Sharon (09:10):

You’re right.

Nicole (09:11):

The most beautiful Christmas ever in history was so simple and not fancy at all, maybe even a bit smelly with all the animals hanging around the barn. But beautiful and simple nonetheless. And even at the moment of his birth, there was no great fanfare or parties, no massive parades or banquets to celebrate this future king. The God of the universe came in human form so humble and so quiet, in a dirty little stable with just animals and his stepdad to witness his arrival. I don’t want us to lose the beauty and the simplicity of that precious moment, that Jesus modeled even as a newborn that less is more. (Sharon: Mm-hmm) Because he is the more that we really need and all this other stuff just distracts us from him and keeps us from focusing on what he truly wants us to do.

Sharon (09:53):

So true. So true. Sometimes it’s all just distractions and the baby in the manger’s the thing.

Nicole (10:00):

Mm, absolutely.

Sharon (10:00):

Right? Yeah. All right. So what have we learned so far in keeping a Simple Selah Christmas? Number one, expect that circumstances won’t always be as ideal as we might wish. And receive what is and make the best of it. Instead of pining for the impossibly perfect Christmas. Focus on how to make whatever we have special. So that’s number one.

Nicole (10:21):

I like that one.

Sharon (10:22):

Number two, the most important thing of all at Christmas is it’s a time to celebrate God entering our world in the form of a tiny, helpless baby, identifying with us in every way. Right from the beginning of life. Even identifying with extreme poverty. (Nicole: Oh yeah) Even that. So, number three, we don’t need to spend a ton of money to make Christmas special. It’s not about the material stuff. They’re gonna play in the boxes and like the chap stick, right? It’s about the heart of family being together, remembering Christ’s birth.

Nicole (10:52):

I know. I feel like that last one is especially hard for parents with young kids to remember.

Sharon (10:57):

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Nicole (10:58):

We are completely bombarded with commercials and ads and Christmas catalogs and you name it. And it’s all trying to convince us that in order to be the best parents we need to buy our kids all the plastic stuff and the latest and the greatest. It’s overwhelming to our kiddos though.

Sharon (11:12):

It is. It is. It can be. (Nicole: Yeah) They can get tired opening presents.

Nicole (11:15):

They can. And to our bank accounts.

Sharon (11:18):

Yeah. It’s bad for that too.

Nicole (11:19):

It’s not so good for that. But I had seen this picture a few years back. It had this little girl from a different country and she was cradling her one beautiful doll. (Sharon: Oh) And to the side of her was this little girl next to a Christmas tree with presents piled as high almost to the top of the tree. And she’d open one gift and drop it in the pile and then quickly tore into another. And it was just very powerful cuz you could see the love for the one toy in the first little girl’s face and that the other girl looked like she was in a race just to finish opening the all the gifts. And this picture was hugely convicting to me.

Sharon (11:51):

Wow. Yes.

Nicole (11:52):

You know, and I had bought into the lie that I needed to buy their Christmas happiness with stuff. (Sharon: Uhhuh) With too much stuff.

Sharon (11:58):

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And sometimes less is more, that one doll was valued because it was the only thing right?

Nicole (12:05):

Her one thing to cherish and take care of instead of like, gotta open all the presents.

Sharon (12:09):

Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole (12:09):

So, I don’t know. That’s been in my back to my mind now for Christmas.

Sharon (12:13):

Yeah. I remember one Christmas, the one Mary was staying with us. (Nicole: Yeah) Uh, we, we spent all day opening presents because we’d open one each and the kids would go play with it.

Nicole (12:23):

Oh, I love that idea.

Sharon (12:24):

And then another hour they’d open another. And there weren’t a ton, but even then we let kids be kids, which is when they get a present they wanna play, they actually wanna play with it.

Nicole (12:34):

Or, like, put it down. You’ve got more to open.

Sharon (12:35):

Put it down you’ve got more. That’s right. And they’re like, wait, wait, but why not? This is really cool.

Nicole (12:39):

Yeah. And you know what, as a child, we had one particularly meager year and I never knew it until we were older. It was my favorite Christmas, Sharon.

Sharon (12:46):


Nicole (12:47):

We opened one gift an hour and I think we had all of four or five presents that year. And I never knew it was because they didn’t have very many gifts for us. We opened one and I can still remember those are some of my four favorite gifts that I had as a kid.

Sharon (12:59):

See, slowing down can make you savor things more.

Nicole (13:02):

Oh yeah.

Sharon (13:02):

Yeah. It really can.

Nicole (13:03):

So you can remember the value of that.

Sharon (13:05):

Yeah. All right. So let’s talk about the value of the one thing. (Nicole: Yeah) That we don’t have to do all the things. You know, for example, there’s tons of advent activities out there for children and adults. Ways to remember Jesus and Christmas. (Nicole: Yeah) Can we just choose one? (Nicole: Mm-hmm) Nicole, what are some of the options available for parents who wanna incorporate the true story into the mix?

Nicole (13:27):

There’s a lot of them.

Sharon (13:28):

Yeah. I’ll bet there are.

Nicole (13:29):

So let’s just talk about a few different ones and we’re gonna choose one. One that fits your family. One of our favorites, and I’ve mentioned this before on previous podcasts, but we got this really cute little advent book, craft book. It’s called The Truth in the Tinsel. And it has a portion of the story of Jesus and a little craft that corresponds with (Sharon: Aw; Uhhuh) the story. Now listen, I’ve been doing this book for years. We have never done all the crafts and we still have never finished the book. But it’s really fun to pick a few to do each year and sometimes even one or two. (Sharon: Yeah) Because you can do all 30 days of the crafts. We never have. And that’s okay.

Sharon (14:04):

And that is all right.

Nicole (14:04):


Sharon (14:05):

You get to do it your way.

Nicole (14:06):

Right. And also, my kiddos love crafting. So this is really important. This is a great way for us to make the Christmas story real, more real. But not everyone likes to craft.

Sharon (14:16):

Mm-hmm. So it might not be everybody’s choice.

Nicole (14:18):

Right. Exactly.

Sharon (14:19):

Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole (14:19):

So I’ve heard that they have this cute little shepherd that you can hide around your house, kind of like the elf on the shelf.

Sharon (14:24):

Instead there’s a shepherd looking for Jesus.

Nicole (14:26):

There’s a shepherd, so cute. So that would be a fun idea. That’d be fun. We did add this very simple little giving manger thing that I had seen. We have this little wooden manger and when the kids do kind things, they take a little, hay colored pipe cleaner and lay it in the manger (Sharon: Ohhhh) and make it cozy for baby Jesus. And then Christmas Eve we put him in his little plush manger, hopefully.

Sharon (14:45):

Cause hopefully they’ve been kind.

Nicole (14:48):

Right. And it’s very simple. It’s just a little reminder for my kids as they’re younger to maybe fight a little less.

Sharon (14:53):

It’s a kindness reminder.

Nicole (14:54):

It is. But very simple. You can buy a kit. I just made my own with some little clay and a cheap box from Hobby Lobby.

Sharon (14:59):

You smarty. Yeah. Oh that’s lovely.

Nicole (15:03):

So that’s kind of fun.

Sharon (15:03):

And that’s tactile. I like that.

Nicole (15:04):

Yes. It’s very visual. Also I think having, you could have your kiddos focus on saving a few dollars in coins here and there and you could buy a gift for a family from that Samaritan’s (Purse) gift giving catalog.

Sharon (15:14):

Oh, that’s fun.

Nicole (15:15):

You could send like some chickens or a goat or a pig. My nieces do that and they just love it, “Auntie, we bought a goat for a family to feed ’em for two years”. I mean, what a blessing to do. (Sharon: Yeah, yeah) You know, kids. And again, it gets kids thinking more about others and not about themselves.

Sharon (15:28):

I love that.

Nicole (15:28):


Sharon (15:29):

And you could do a different one each year. Okay, this year we’re gonna buy a goat.

Nicole (15:33):


Sharon (15:33):

And then, and then everything is geared towards that one thing, which makes it more meaningful instead of, “Wait, no. We have a craft to do. Oh, and hold on. We’ve gotta hang an ornament for the Jesse tree and oh, let’s read this story”. And then you’re rushing through it again. Like opening present after present.

Nicole (15:50):

Right. Well that’s the thing with all these things is, if it doesn’t feel simple to you, don’t do it. Just choose the one, the one that will be a blessing for you and your family.

Sharon (15:59):

And then enjoy it. Savor it.

Nicole (16:00):

Enjoy it. Have fun with it. Yeah. I love crafting. So the crafting one is like right up my alley.

Sharon (16:03):

That’s your deal.

Nicole (16:04):

But we do three of them a year, not 24.

Sharon (16:07):

And I am terrible at crafting. People take crafts away from me because they can see how badly I’m putting them together.

Nicole (16:13):

I don’t believe that.

Sharon (16:14):

It’s sad. Oh, it’s true. It’s so true. But we do the advent wreath every year. That’s our thing.

Nicole (16:20):

Oh, I love that.

Sharon (16:20):

And we did that with the kids. And Ray and I do it. In fact, I just bought a new devotional for this year. We’ve done CRU, we’ve done a Christianity Today one, we’ve read the sermons of James Montgomery Boice. Cause Ray and I are kind of the intellectual type, you know. But this year we’re doing Max Lucado’s In the Manger.

Nicole (16:38):

Oh, I love that.

Sharon (16:38):

And so we do ours at dinner time. (Nicole: Yeah) Because, you know, Ray tends as a school teacher to be busy in the evening. So we are gonna read to each other. I’ll read one night, Ray will read the next and we’ll read the simple story and we’ll light our little advent wreath.

Nicole (16:51):

Oh, I love that; I love that you’re still doing that too.

Sharon (16:53):

We still do it. It’s that, just for the one thing.

Nicole (16:55):

Yeah. The one thing for you two. I love it.

Sharon (16:56):

Yeah, yeah. But that’s it. No crafts for me baby. Mm-hmm.

Nicole (17:00):

Well let’s talk about the one thing idea when it comes to baking and cooking.

Sharon (17:04):


Nicole (17:05):

So do we really have to make Christmas fudge, do the cookies and make gingerbread houses?

Sharon (17:10):

No. (Nicole: Nope)

Nicole (17:11):

Unless it’s a real sweet spot for you and your family.

Sharon (17:13):

Well, that true. If that’s your deal, go for it.

Nicole (17:15):

Yeah. Then bake away. (Sharon: Yeah) It is not mine. So, well, so for our family, a few years back we started doing a very simple sugar cookie baking day. We invite one family over every year and we cut out cookies with lots and lots and lots of sprinkles. I get these little five container sprinkles on clearance the year before. (Sharon: Brilliant) And the kids just go to town with them. It’s crazy.

Sharon (17:34):


Nicole (17:34):

So I usually have sprinkles rolling around my kitchen for a few days afterward. But we’ve made some great memories with family and friends over the years. (Sharon: Yeah) And I have this one video of Ellie, it’s my favorite. She was probably three years old and she was sitting on the counter with her pile of sprinkles in her hands and she just kept mounding it on top of her cookie. And she’d go, sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle. And she’d say sprinkle as she was sprinkling. I was just watching her and laughing. I didn’t stop her. So her cookie was very mounded with sprinkles.

Sharon (18:04):

Mount Sprinkle. Yes.

Nicole (18:05):

So cute.

Sharon (18:07):

That’s so cute. I love it. Well, I actually do very little baking for Christmas. I do hot cross buns at Easter. (Nicole: Yeah) I do this big apple pie deal and all the stuff for Thanksgiving. So this year I’m just gonna make a pecan pie at Kathryn’s house. We’re going to see Kathryn for Christmas, because she loves the pecan pie. (Nicole: Yeah) But that’s not my sweet spot. (Nicole: Yeah) Now my daughter Mary, that’s her sweet spot. It’ll be elegant. It’ll be gorgeous because that brings Mary joy.

Nicole (18:31):


Sharon (18:31):

It’s not hard for her, it’s joy.

Nicole (18:33):


Sharon (18:34):

But for me it’s decorating.

Nicole (18:35):


Sharon (18:35):

I still want that live tree. I still water the thing every year, you know, and it takes two days to decorate it, you know? So, but that’s Thanksgiving weekend for me. There’s nothing that happens Thanksgiving weekend. I keep it clear for the one thing.

Nicole (18:53):

Oh, perfect. Right.

Sharon (18:53):

I pull out all my decorations, the tree’s the only two day thing. Everything else is done on the Saturday.

Nicole (18:59):


Sharon (18:59):

The tree gets the lights on the Saturday, then I rest Saturday night and Sunday cause of my Sabbath.

Nicole (19:05):

Nice. Good.

Sharon (19:05):

And Sunday night I put on the ornaments.

Nicole (19:07):

Oh that’s wonderful.

Sharon (19:07):

And it’s the one thing. So it doesn’t feel overwhelming to me. I’m doing nothing except playing happy Christmas music and putting out all my little decorations. I have a little snowman collection.

Nicole (19:18):

Oh, cute.

Sharon (19:18):

Snowmen. They’re so cute.

Nicole (19:19):

They’re so cute.

Sharon (19:20):

I have an entire shelf of snowmen. I have nativity sets everywhere, including outside. (Nicole: Yes) I go to town on decorations because I love it. (Nicole: Yeah) But even that, it’s one weekend. What doesn’t happen in that weekend doesn’t get out of the boxes.

Nicole (19:33):

Well and you’ve set aside time for this years in advance. You’ve been doing it this way forever.

Sharon (19:37):

Yeah, yeah, it’s what I do.

Nicole (19:37):

So it’s not like, Oh I have to fit in decorating. It’s part of your rhythm.

Sharon (19:37):

It’s part of the rhythm.

Nicole (19:41):

Oh, I love that.

Sharon (19:43):


Nicole (19:43):

Very smart. Well I reuse decorations from year to year. So I don’t go out and buy all new things either.

Sharon (19:48):

That’s smart.

Nicole (19:48):

I just kinda keep it simple.

Sharon (19:50):

Yeah, like the snowmen appearing every year.

Nicole (19:51):


Sharon (19:51):

I don’t need new stuff.

Nicole (19:52):

We bought all the ornaments and decorations for our tree 15 years ago when we got married and they’re still on there.

Sharon (19:59):

Good job. Good job.

Nicole (20:01):

It works. So for us, like my girls and Josh, they love Christmas lights inside. We’re off the road so people are not seeing our homes. I don’t focus on outside. Sometimes I’ll put a couple things on the porch. Very simple. But I put lights everywhere. Every doorframe, every railing.

Sharon (20:16):

Oh Nicole.

Nicole (20:16):

I wrap it with lights and they love it. And we leave it up until February. We just turn it into Valentine’s Day lights and we hang hearts on them.

Sharon (20:23):

Why not?

Nicole (20:23):

And New Year’s lights.

Sharon (20:24):

You know, that makes so much sense. If you’re gonna go to the trouble of putting up the lights. (Nicole: Oh yeah) Enjoy them during the darkest days of the year.

Nicole (20:29):

Oh we drag it out. Exactly. Well that’s the thing we love. As Josh says, it makes the house feel so cozy and cheerful in those cold dark months. So for me, Christmas lights, (Sharon: It’s the lights) inside the house.

Sharon (20:39):

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nicole (20:40):

Anywhere there’s a surface, there’s a light.

Nicole (20:41):

So even our tree, we made it more simple cause we used to go to get a real real tree at a local tree farm. And it was a lot of fun, but it started to get a little harder. We had to get a truck and get the kids there.

Sharon (20:53):

Oh yeah.

Nicole (20:53):

And go find the tree, cut it down. Then it sat on the porch for a couple days till Josh could level out the bottom to fit into my tree stand (Sharon: Mm-hmm) which kept breaking and the tree kept falling over. And I’m like, I gotta find a good tree stand. Finally, I found this beautiful little tree on clearance three years ago. And it has simplified my tree, putting up experience.

Sharon (21:10):

Ta dah!

Nicole (21:11):

It’s wonderful. I can go downstairs and in 20 minutes this tree is up. I can decorate the lights, the kids can put the ornaments on and I’m not as stressed about it.

Sharon (21:19):

See, you’ve chosen what is simple for you.

Nicole (21:21):


Sharon (21:22):

That’s great.

Nicole (21:22):

I don’t have to water it. I don’t have to worry about getting it out on time.

Sharon (21:24):

You don’t have to do all the things.

Nicole (21:25):

Yeah. And you know what, I loved getting the real tree and someday we might. But for right now, a simple tree is what I need. A simple fake tree.

Sharon (21:32):

Good for you. Good for you.

Nicole (21:34):

What about Christmas cards, Sharon? Do you do those?

Sharon (21:36):

Yeah, I do. But I only recommend it if it’s a happy thing for you. I’m a writer, so I write a Christmas letter every year. And because we moved so many times, you know, in 17 years of military travel, sometimes multiple times in one year, and I made friends everywhere I went, I have quite the Christmas card list.

Nicole (21:55):

Oh, how fun.

Sharon (21:56):

And I love hearing from my friends. I love seeing a recent picture. I love knowing how their life is. So for me it’s a joy. And I just have a week where the cards are out on the dining room table and I do them as I can. (Nicole: Nice) And it, it works for me. But, I have a lot of friends now who just send a Christmas email.

Nicole (22:14):

Oh yeah.

Sharon (22:14):

That’s fine. (Nicole: Mm-hm) I still get their news. I don’t have to, you know, have it tangible.

Nicole (22:18):


Sharon (22:19):

Some people send it in January and some don’t send it at all. (Nicole: Yeah) You can’t do it all.

Nicole (22:24):

You can’t do it all.

Sharon (22:24):

You have to know what to say yes to and what to say no to.

Nicole (22:26):


Sharon (22:27):

How about you?

Nicole (22:29):

Um, I’m not much of a writer. No. What I really love is I love photos. Photos are so special to me. So our family, we try to do family photos every year. So I usually have a nice family photo in fall to use for Christmas cards. (Sharon: Yeah). Or I choose the kids’ Christmas pictures. Cause we didn’t get family photos this year. It was a little crazy so we didn’t do it.

Sharon (22:48):

Oh, okay.

Nicole (22:48):

So we’re just gonna use the girls’ school photos and a cute one from us, you know, sometime this year.

Sharon (22:53):


Nicole (22:53):

And I just make the photo cards. You can just print out a photo and then put a little blurb on the back.

Sharon (22:59):

Beautiful. Like Merry Christmas.

Nicole (23:00):

Yes. From the Olstads. We did this this year and we’re all alive and well. Yeah,

Sharon (23:03):

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nicole (23:04):

And then Josh helped me set up a template a few years ago. So I can easily just print out the addresses on these little sticker cards.

Sharon (23:10):

Oh my goodness. I need a Josh.

Nicole (23:12):

It’s wonderful.

Sharon (23:12):

I still hand write them all.

Nicole (23:14):

Do you? That’s not ( Sharon: Yes. Oh wow) sounding fun.

Sharon (23:17):

That’s awesome.

Nicole (23:19):

Yeah, I just sit there and stick um and the kids help me, Stamp, sticker, you know address label.

Sharon (23:20):

And the kids help so that’s fun. (Nicole: Yeah) And that says to them, we care about these people.

Nicole (23:27):

We do. And we love getting, when we get the people’s letters back, we open ’em, we stick ’em all around our door frames. I love getting Christmas cards.

Sharon (23:33):

I do too.

Nicole (23:34):

That’s special for us.

Sharon (23:35):

I do too. All right then. So we’ve covered cooking, decorating cards, devotions. What about presents, so much to buy and so much to wrap. How do you handle presents?

Nicole (23:46):

Well per that picture conversation earlier, we’ve been trying to make a change. First off, I think that with any change, it’s really important not to just ambush your kids with it. So just telling them we’re doing a simpler Christmas with less stuff on Christmas morning,

Sharon (23:58):


Nicole (23:58):

Might be a bit of a shock. And they may not be on board with that, right.

Sharon (24:01):

One present. Uh huh.

Nicole (24:02):

So maybe, maybe prep your children first. I’ve been talking to the girls about this for a while because we’ve been trying to declutter all the extra stuff in our life anyway.

Sharon (24:11):

Yes, yes.

Nicole (24:12):

We’ve been going through their extra toys, their extra clothes, extra everything. So now we’re taking the same, you know, decluttering theme to Christmas. So they’re good. They’re, they’re prepared for it, you know. (Sharon: Yeah) So we were asking the girls what they thought would be a good idea too. And we’d heard this poem before this ‘something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read’, like using that as a base play for Christmas gifts.

Sharon (24:31):

Oh I love that. A want, say it again.

Nicole (24:34):

A need.

Sharon (24:34):

A need.

Nicole (24:35):

A wear.

Sharon (24:36):

A wear. (Both: And a read)

Nicole (24:38):

So I’m like, what is the one thing you really want and what do you need girls? So what’s your favorite book and something to wear? So it’s been really fun. They’ve been brainstorming, oh, this is what I really want. Well, maybe not, maybe it’s this, but they have it in their hearts and heads now that they’re getting the one thing.

Sharon (24:53):

The one thing. The one want.

Nicole (24:55):


Sharon (24:56):

That’s nice. I like it.

Nicole (24:56):

So it’s kinda cool. And so we’ve gotten their toy collection down to one set of sorts and then we just, if we do buy a toy, it goes with that set instead of buying a whole new collection. Like if they collect ponies, they get an extra pony.

Sharon (25:07):

Oh, that’s good.

Nicole (25:08):

Or if Barbie dolls they get a new Barbie. So, and also that new toy kind of sparks ’em to play with what they have already.

Sharon (25:13):

The old set.

Nicole (25:15):


Sharon (25:15):

Oh that’s good. I like it.

Nicole (25:16):

We’re trying. So that’s kind of fun.

Sharon (25:18):

Yeah, yeah.

Nicole (25:18):

But I think that, you know, one of my kids said something to me, Sharon, I was asking like, what, what do you like about Christmas? What do you not like? And one of them said, it’s really overwhelming mama to try to find a place to put all my new presents.

Sharon (25:30):


Nicole (25:30):

Isn’t that amazing? I was like, oh my word. You know, I mean good glory, my effort to do what I thought I needed to do and give them all the things. I’ve been overwhelming them.

Sharon (25:38):

It’s been stressful.

Nicole (25:39):

Yeah. Taking some of their joy out of Christmas.

Sharon (25:39):

Oh my goodness. We are so blessed in America.

Nicole (25:42):

We are.

Sharon (25:42):

The abundance is ridiculous.

Nicole (25:44):

And we can drown in it sometimes.

Sharon (25:45):

Yes. And so we can un-drown them. And that sounds like what you guys are gonna do this year.

Nicole (25:49):

Yeah, we’re trying.

Sharon (25:50):

Yeah. I like it.

Nicole (25:51):

Yep. And wrap early. I’m trying to wrap my gifts early before December.

Sharon (25:54):

Yeah, that’s a really good idea too. So, well, you know, I’d like to talk as we close this out about Ray’s five pound bag principle which he has lectured me on a time or seven. Sharon, says Ray, you have a five pound bag in which to fill for the day. That’s all you’ve got is a five pound bag. You are constantly trying to jam seven pounds into that bag and then your bag breaks. You’ve gotta take some things out in order to keep it at five pounds. So let’s talk for just a minute about if we’re gonna add stuff to the season, like cards and decorating and stuff, what do we eliminate?

Nicole (26:32):


Sharon (26:33):

So that we keep it simple. So we have to let things go if we’re gonna do other things.

Nicole (26:39):

I love that. Oh, I do so love Ray’s wise little statements he makes. He should write a book called Ray’s Wisdom, I would totally buy it.

Sharon (26:48):

I love that.

Nicole (26:48):

Oh man. So, okay. I think that kind of what we’ve been doing everyday life is after an event that has felt especially stressful, we evaluate and see if we really needed or should have gone to it. So, and try to make better decisions in the future about where we spend our time with our kiddos and stuff.

Sharon (27:03):

Yes. Yes.

Nicole (27:03):

So I think taking that into Christmas, it’s important to look at our week ahead or the weekend and, you know, make sure we don’t have back to back events. We can say yes to too many things, even if they’re all really good or fun things.

Sharon (27:15):

And we have to choose the one thing sometimes. What’s the one thing we’re doing today?

Nicole (27:19):

Yes. And talk to your kids about it.

Sharon (27:20):

Too bad we can’t do them all, but next year we’ll do a different one thing.

Nicole (27:24):


Sharon (27:25):

Yep. Yep.

Nicole (27:25):

So, and as far as more practical day to day things, maybe only focus on maintaining one area of your house for the week before Christmas so you don’t get too stressed.

Sharon (27:33):

There’s a good idea.

Nicole (27:34):

Instead of cleaning the whole house.

Sharon (27:34):

Right. Just one tidy room.

Nicole (27:36):

Just one, like the kitchen. Or maybe just the downstairs or if you’ve guests coming, just the guest bedroom. Like keep it simple for yourself. (Sharon: Yeah. Yeah) I also keep meals really simple that week before Christmas. So scrambled eggs, cereal nights or quick crock pot meals or even your apples and popcorn Sabbath meals.

Sharon (27:50):

My apples and popcorn. Yes. You’ve got to cut back on some things if you’re gonna do others.

Nicole (27:56):


Sharon (27:56):

Because your five pound bag will break.

Nicole (27:57):

Only have a five pound bag. And with Christmas stuff you’re adding more in so you gotta take something out.

Sharon (28:01):

You’ve gotta take some stuff out, so. Oh, that’s so good. (Nicole: Yeah) That’s so good.

Nicole (28:04):

And you know what’s like a big stop for me is that my girls are watching how I do Christmas now and that this will become their recipe for Christmas making when they’re older someday. And I don’t want them to feel like they have to do everything and equate Christmas with stress.

Sharon (28:16):


Nicole (28:17):

I want them to see that Christmas can be simple and beautiful.

Sharon (28:20):

Yes. So that they do the same in their families. (Nicole: Yes) And it doesn’t end up being like a dreaded time of year.

Nicole (28:26):

Yeah, for sure.

Sharon (28:26):

Which is so sad when it becomes that way.

Nicole (28:28):

I know. It’s how people hate Christmas.

Sharon (28:30):

Yeah. Well we do the same thing with the ministry too. We slow it down in December. I’m hardly speaking at all that month and you know, I’m gonna keep my one Selah day of the month and have a Christmas Selah by my fire and looking at my tree, you know, reading the Christmas story out loud to Jesus and me and just, you know, so I want those one things to stay.

Nicole (28:51):


Sharon (28:51):

You know, my quiet times, my Sabbath things, stuff like that. But we just need to slow it down a little bit so that we can actually savor.

Nicole (28:59):

Absolutely. You know, despite all the craziness, Sharon, I love making a big deal about Christmas.

Sharon (29:04):


Nicole (29:04):

Jesus’s birth is the most significant birth ever. And I do think it’s okay to celebrate that.

Sharon (29:08):

It is.

Nicole (29:09):

I think I need to be more intentional about adding in more quiet time with Jesus. Just him and I because I, I sometimes get so focused on making it a blessing for my kiddos and getting them to focus on him that sometimes I forget to take my own Selah Christmas time.

Sharon (29:22):

You need Selah time too. You do. Yes.

Nicole (29:25):

You know, it’s fun to do the crafts with them and I get something from the stories, but Oh man, there’s nothing like sitting with Jesus alone one on one.

Sharon (29:31):

There’s nothing like it. And we’ve gotta grab those little tiny moments to do that.

Nicole (29:36):


Sharon (29:36):

We really, really do. So, so let’s talk about that for a minute. Let’s talk about our five minute pauses or Selah stops.

Nicole (29:43):


Sharon (29:44):

I actually think we’re almost out of time, but can we read a few of them together?

Nicole (29:48):

I think so.

Sharon (29:48):

And we’ll put the rest in the show notes. I love posting these and they’re also on our advent bible study that we’re doing right now. At the end of the Bible study. Just five minutes of quiet to help us recalibrate and remember what Christmas is all about.

Nicole (30:04):


Sharon (30:05):

Here’s one, just one five minute thing. Stop and sit and really listen to a favorite Christmas song. Really listen, like to all the words. (Nicole: Yeah) From beginning to end.

Nicole (30:14):

Oh, I like that one.

Sharon (30:15):

That’s one.

Nicole (30:15):

Stop and pray for those who are going to be with you over Christmas, asking God to prepare their hearts for the season and asking for his grace to love them well. (Sharon: Yeah) That’s important.

Sharon (30:24):

If we pray about it, it’s probably gonna go better, right?

Nicole (30:28):

Yeah. Than if we dread it.

Sharon (30:29):

Mm-hmm. And maybe just one more for now, but we’ll put the rest in the show notes. Stand outside on a clear night and look up at the stars and remember the star. Just, just that. We’ve gotta take these little breaks even when we can’t take the big breaks.

Nicole (30:44):


Sharon (30:45):

So, so we’ll get the rest on the show notes and if you’re doing our advent Christmas Bible study right now, you know about this cause every day we give you a five minute thing to do. And if you’re not, you can still join in. Just write me at We’d love to have you join us for the Advent Bible study. Well, let’s pray. Father, I just thank you so much that the first Christmas was simple, a baby and a manger. You in flesh come to earth. God, show us the one thing in each category that we should do and all the things we shouldn’t so that our hearts are full of yearning for your second coming and joy at your first this Christmas season. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Nicole (31:33):

Amen. I feel all excited for Christmas now and I hope and pray I can help my family really enjoy the season. We’d love to hear from you. How do you find those quiet Selah moments at this time of the year, what you eliminate in December so you can have room in your five pound bag for Christmas fun? Write us, you can find us at sweet We are always grateful when we get a review too, so please give us a Christmas gift of a review if you wouldn’t mind. We welcome donations always, but especially need them at the end of our fiscal year, which is December in our ministry. Go to and mention that you want to be a podcast partner to receive our monthly newsletter. And join us next week for episode 94, Tenderhearted Christmas. Christmas is not a happy time for many people. Let’s talk about how we can simply help the lonely this Christmas. Until then, merry preparations to you all.

Speaker 3 (32:31):

We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be found Thank you for joining us.


You can download and print the transcript here.

2 Comments. Leave new

  • This was a wonderful podcast as usual, but it gave
    me so many ideas to help slow down and really
    experience the meaning of Christmas. I want to
    call up my sister and share this so much so that she
    too can slow down and not stress as much over all
    the preparations. Thank you so much! And have
    yourselves a very Merry Christmas!

    • Sharon Gamble
      December 6, 2022 6:00 pm

      We are SO pleased this was helpful to you. YAY!! And thank you for the Merry wishes. Back atcha with much love, Sharon and Nicole


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