Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Expectations

The Christmas season seems to come with a lot of pressures that can overwhelm us if we allow them to simply sweep us away in their wake—parties, banquets, shopping, decorating, baking, cooking, friends, family, church, and the list goes on. Do we just take a big breath at the beginning of the season and hope we'll make it through before we collapse in a heap, or get sick? For too many this is what happens, thinking there just is no other choice.

“What if”...dream for a minute.

If you could change one thing to make Christmas a better experience for you, what would it be? Is there something you would really enjoy but don't have the time to do? Is there something that really stresses you out and wish you didn't have to do? Perhaps it is time to prioritize what is the most important for you and your family. Focus on getting those things done and gradually let go of the rest. It might be too drastic a change to simplify all at once, but if you do one thing each year it will become easier.

For example, you always host the family Christmas dinner because everyone expects you to. You don’t mind having it at your place but it is getting more stressful for you to do all the cooking. Instead of just canceling dinner, ask each person to bring part of the meal—now it is easier and more bearable.

Also, you and your spouse may go to every Christmas party you’re invited to. While you enjoy parties, going to every one is a bit much (especially if you have a lot of friends and both work.) Which ones do you enjoy the most? Try to gradually cut down to the ones that make Christmas an enjoyable experience rather than a duty.

You might like to volunteer somewhere during the season to bring joy to the homeless? Try and find a way to include your family and make it a giving experience rather than just “getting.” If you choose a focus for each year, it is something your family might more easily buy into and get involved with as well.

If you’re like me, you also need quiet time to meditate about the real meaning of Christmas—taking time to reflect on Jesus’ birth. Where does He fit in all the rush? None of these changes happen without a focused effort. Which one is the most important to you this year? Plan to do something different and gradually reshape the season of stress into a season of joy!

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