This week’s blog usually takes me longer to write than others throughout the year. It is the last blog before Christmas, and because of that somehow I feel like it should be more profound and really make you think (you know how we leaders love self-imposed pressure!) Over the years I have written about Lessons From a Manger (2014), Gift Wrapping (2015), Making Room (2017), Giving Beyond the Season (2018), The Star That Guides (2019), and Ugly Christmas Sweaters (2020).
For those of you keeping score and noticing a couple missing years, in 2016 and 2021 I offered “an encore posting” of 2014’s and 2017’s Christmas blogs — probably because both of those blogs continued to speak to me . . . and because I wasn’t coming up with anything else that did! Chances are I felt pretty guilty at the time about repeating a post. If that were to happen today, I would hope that rather than piling on the guilt, I would offer myself the gift of grace.
In my experience, leaders tend to be much better at extending grace to others than accepting it themselves. We expect ourselves to run faster and accomplish more year after year. Eventually, however, we reach the point of diminishing returns, and until we replenish our reserves, more effort is only going to make us more exhausted. It has been a challenging few years for leaders, and when you add all the extra festivities that the holidays bring — wonderful as they are — it can just feel like too much. That’s where grace comes in.
It is okay not to make every business open house or holiday party. Give yourself permission to wait until the first of the year to schedule that meeting. Don’t feel bad about taking a long lunch to catch up with friends who are in town. Do make time for those traditions that are important to you — even if they seem silly or unimportant to someone else. Take an afternoon to sit in front of the fireplace and read a book . . . or take a hike . . . or call a friend . . . or reflect on the past year and plan for the one ahead. Refill your tank, whatever that looks like for you.
After all the time you spend trying to choose just the right gift for everyone else, maybe you should take a moment to add yourself to the list. Want something that is always the right color and size? Maybe this holiday season, you should offer yourself the gift of grace.