Are you caught on the Christmas treadmill again this year? Christmas is a wonderful time when families reunite. The spirit of giving and the infectious excitement of children are in the air. And, with great joy, many Christians celebrate their spiritual heritage, the coming to earth of their savior, Jesus Christ. But Christmas can also be one of the most stressful times of year. Christmas stress can result from the harried pace, with all of the festivities, and from heightened expectations. People want to please their loved ones with perfect gifts and delightful celebrations. A self-imposed pressure can soon creep in to steal away the joy of the season.
We all experience stress, even during less hectic times. This season’s stress has a distinct endpoint, just around the corner. In the meantime, here are some thoughts on how to de-stress to enjoy the next two special days.
1. You can’t buy acceptance, nor should you have to. Gift giving is a beautiful act when backed by geniune motives. It commemorates the early givers, the Magi, when the Christ child was born. It also reflects upon God’s gift to us of a Savior. When a gift is given out of obligation or duty, it has lost its meaning. Realize that whether someone likes the gift you have given them or not, you will remain the same person you are today. They will too. There is no perfect gift. Take some of the pressure off. You might even want to consider skipping the gift for a year. That will prompt a needed reassessment next year.
2. Reexamine your own expectations. Christmas comes once a year. On December 26, or certainly by January 2, it is over, perhaps even forgotten by most people. Don’t expect more from the holiday than it can deliver. Better yet, treat every day as Christmas, a continuous lifelong celebration of God’s gift to us. Then, when Christmas comes along, it will be just another glorious day. Nevertheless, reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Remember its origin. And give thanks.
3. You can’t control other people. Christmas is typically a time when people gather. You’ll see some people who you don’t normally choose to spend time with. Some of them may be “difficult people.” Realize that others have the right to be who they are and you can’t change them. If you accept them as they are, they will be more inclined to do the same for you. And you may just enjoy them a bit better if you let them be.
Debbie and I wish you well in your Christmas celebration, whatever form it takes. Have a very Merry Christmas!