Are you feeling holiday stress yet? I am not and I have vowed it will not happen this year. Everything about it should be done to honor our Lord, and I know for me personally I failed that test many years. In addition to stress, this year I could choose to get down and depressed with it being my first Christmas without my Mom, and things keep happening that hurt, but I have to move on. We were getting decorations out of the attic a bit ago and my husband had left a box in the garage that said “Mom and Dad Christmas”. I thought what in the world is that? I opened it and it was the wreath I put in Mom’s room at the nursing home last year, and a tree with bells on it that I put back to take to the cemetery. Yep I wanna cry and I almost busted into tears, but this is a joyous time of the year and I will find joy and peace and remember what this season is all about, and remember Mom is not suffering and she is with Jesus and my Dad.
I know that as a wife, a mom and a grandmom that it is us women that usually feel the brunt of the Christmas season. We are running everywhere to buy gifts, decorate the house, plan menus trying to make sure that everything is perfect. We are wrapping, cleaning, baking cookies and making candies, addressing Christmas cards, going to the post office to mail, and making all the decisions for all there is to be done getting ready for company and all the festivities at school, at church, at friends and at home not to mention in some cases planning on how we are traveling and what to pack for the trip.
So how do we have peace and joy at Christmas. Joy is absolutely my favorite word and it is so hard to pass up ornaments or decorations with that word on them.
It is sad to me to watch how the world is changing. It was hard watching people move from fall to Christmas and barely recognizing Thanksgiving – watching the shopping frenzy on the news, people fighting over things so unimportant. My daughter who was visiting this week and I got out on Friday and we really didn’t want to because of the rush. I vowed I would have fun no matter what, and that we did. We stopped for a Gingerbread Latte at Starbucks and took off to a long line at Kohl’s but it wasn’t bad. We got out again on Saturday morning to go to Wal-Mart and there was no line. I asked the lady if they had been busy and she said only on Thanksgiving evening. Sad but true and fortunate for us that folks weren’t rushing on Friday and Saturday.
It is my goal every Christmas to keep it Christ-centered because that is what it is all about. Yes I still love all the festivities that go with it, and I continue traditions that I have long held precious, but all over the house there are mangers, there is that word joy, there are angels and kneeling Santa’s and something in every room to remind me and those who visit here what Christmas is all about.
Each year I buy an ornament for my kids. They are grown and married now and I also buy ornaments for the spouses, and this year for the first time I have a grandson and he is getting two. When the kids got married I boxed them up and gave them theirs, but there are still so many on the tree that I treasure like this one of me, my Mom and Dad and sisters over 60 years ago that my baby sister made me one Christmas.
Stockings – we still have stockings. I polled the kids several years ago to see if they wanted to stop this tradition or add any new ones and I got a resounding no. The stockings sometime have as much as there is under the tree with gift cards and special things that will fit.
Birthday Cake – When the kids were smaller we would have a cake for Jesus. Perhaps with the new grandson, I will bring back that tradition.
So here’s some of my tips for the Christmas season:
1. First and foremost every year for the past three I have vowed to represent and speak what this season is about. I get so tired of hearing “Happy Holidays” and it started today. We walked into Office Depot and the young man didn’t say anything. I said thank you and “Merry Christmas” and even my daughter commented how he didn’t take it too well. We went to get burgers on the way home at What- A- Burger and they said Happy Holidays and I said thank you and Merry Christmas to you. I am keeping a list as I go this year of those who say Merry Christmas and will try my best to give those places more of my business.
2. Shop early and take people with you to pick out what they want. A whole lot of my stress over the years has been deciding what to give who and finding it. Maybe you like and have the talent to choose that special gift for each person, but I don’t, so I take my daughter and my daughter in law and my mother in law for fun days of shopping and lunch, and I ask for lists from the guys. I have already ordered some of it on-line and don’t have to get out to buy much of it.
3. Start planning your menu NOW! Make lists. Make shopping lists. I absolutely live by lists and keep a running grocery list all the time as well as other things I need like ink cartridges, paper towels, etc.. Make lists of gifts to buy, things needed to wrap, and keep a calendar of events coming up at church, school, work and home and keep a To Do List. And this weekend my daughter showed me how to do a list on my phone. Oh yea!
4. Start Christmas Cards now. I will be tonight as I sit and watch tv with my man. A few a night and it will get done although I am already late this year. Usually I mail them the day after Thanksgiving, but this year has been a bit harder.
5. Spend some time in prayer and your Bible. It will make a difference in how you feel. Get up a few minutes early or spend a few minutes just before going to bed. It makes me feel a whole lot less stressed.
6. Listen to some Christmas music. I love to pull out my whole basket of Christmas CDs. I have them going when I’m cleaning, when I’m driving, when I’m cooking. They make me happy and thankful for this wonderful season.
7. Decorate. I am almost finished already and you will find if you don’t have a full day just give it 15 minutes here and there. Do one room at a time and you’ll start to feel less pressure. Just put the tree up, put the lights up another day, and move on. I decorate every room in the house and right now every room has decorations, but I am not finished and I am not fretting. Tomorrow is a new day and maybe I’ll get 15 minutes tomorrow.
8. Go to church. Our service was amazing today. We had a young man on a saxaphone visiting and he played several songs, but O Holy Night was my favorite with pianos and strings in the background. Worship. Take some time to relax and enjoy what this season is about.
9. Cook early and freeze. No I haven’t done that, but I don’t find the need to, but if it will reduce stress, do it.
10. Go for a walk. Yes it will relieve tension, work off some of those extra calories so weight does not cause more stress and the cool air will awaken your senses.