Andy Williams used to croon that this is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Unfortunately, it has become The Most Frazzled Time of the Year for many of us. The rush to find the right gifts, decorate our homes and sink ourselves further into debt, dilutes the peace and joy of this sacred holiday.

Personally, I’ve stopped listening to society’s dictates of how Christmas should be. I’m focusing on what Christmas means to me and spending time with those I care about, instead of madly trying to get my To-Do List checked off.

When we live a task-oriented life, we focus solely on the future. We gloss over the present and miss important opportunities to connect with those we love. Sending cards becomes more important than spending quality time with others. Or, we may attend a Christmas play or concert and be consumed with what’s next on our list instead of taking in the pageantry of the performance.

My fondest memories of this holiday have never focused on the material aspects—the decorations, food or gifts. Instead, it’s the special time spent with my family: laughing, playing and connecting. A time when the outside world drops away and all that matters is each other.

Of course, if you find joy in sending cards or decorating, do what feeds your soul. Just don’t do something or spend more money than you can because you feel you have to.

Let’s drop society’s expectations to the cold, hard ground. Let’s realize that the time we have with those we love is limited and let’s make the most out of our gatherings. The memories will keep us warm through many a cold night.

May you feel saturated with the love, wonder and peace of this sacred holiday. May the celebration of Christ’s birth help you realize the importance of family, no matter who you choose to comprise your family.