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Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas Celebration

“So…how do you do it all at Christmas without succumbing to holiday stress?”

Christmas is a BIG DEAL…and for Christians, it’s a REALLY BIG DEAL! Not only are we trying to keep up with all the fun festivities – rejoicing family, friends and counting our many blessings – but we are also working hard to keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a worldwide celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the world. It would be hard to find a day with greater significance (Easter excepted!). So…how do you do it all without succumbing to holiday stress?

Here are a few simple tips…

Re-evaluate trying to “DO IT ALL.”

Family, friends, church services, school activities, office parties, and neighbors. They can all be important. Work to streamline the activities surrounding these festive events with the following ideas:

  • Put all holiday happenings on a big calendar where all family members can see it.
  • Select two holiday complete outfits for each family member (one casual, one dressy) and try to make them work for all the seasonal festivities.
  • Choose “one gift fits all” items (i.e. gift cards, ornaments, holiday bread, jam or cookies) for events where you need to bring multiple gifts.
  • Pick one simple recipe for bring-a-dish parties. Stash a bag with serving dish, utensil and non-perishable ingredients in the car.
    [One easy crowd pleaser: Mix together fresh salsa, drained canned corn (don’t forget a can opener), and drained canned black beans and serve with tortilla chips. Another: Open and drain canned mandarin oranges and mix with any variety of frozen or fresh berries – makes a great side dish or dessert.]
  • Forgo the wrapping and tape. Opt for gift bags – purchased or home-decorated plain brown or white bags.
  • Designate one day for all wrapping, another for cooking/baking, another for cleaning. Commit the hours and get it done in one shot. Note: playing Christmas music helps.
  • If you enjoy shopping set aside time and a reasonable budget and turn it into an event. If you don’t like visiting malls and stores, explore online shopping. Even last-minute shoppers can find deals with “next day delivery.”
  • Ask God to help you prioritize your to-do list. “I will put my trust in him” (Hebrews 2:13).

Surrender unrealistic expectations.

Despite widespread desire to give ourselves and our loved ones “magical” holiday, there is no “perfect” Christmas. Well-behaved kids, a perfectly neat house, and stress-free family gatherings may happen – or they may not! We are human. We sin. We get cranky. And we will never measure up to the Gift given by our Heaven Father. Celebrate the Christ-Child, turn down the pressure and be blessed! “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

You can beat holiday stress and keep the focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Practice grace and mercy.

Be loving and forgiving. Let’s be honest. We can’t all have it our way all the time. Differing desires can lead to family conflicts. We can’t control other people’s behavior, but we can ask God for an extra measure of grace and to help us be “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).

Grieve.

If there is an empty chair at your table this year because you have lost a loved one, go ahead and give yourself permission to grieve. Death is not a “normal” part of life and it was not part of God’s perfect plan for us. Sin happened, and as a result, so does death. Share good memories of your loved one and invite others to do the same. Cry. And pray. God hears you – and He cares. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

Don’t become a slave to money.

Gift giving is not worth going into debt over and financial stress is bad for your health! Keep it simple. Set a budget or gift cost limit. If you need to go big, restrict it to one gift per family member. Consider drawing names and focusing on one individual. Give homemade gifts (Pinterest is full of wonderful ideas!), gifts of time or service. Create memory books, photo collages or give gifts from your kitchen – and your heart.

Most importantly, keep your focus on the Reason for the Season.

Church services help center us in the seasonal madness. Include them in your holiday schedule.

Trinity has several opportunities to focus on the birth of the Savior during the season of Advent and Christmas 2017:

  • Midweek Advent Time on Wednesday, December 6, 13 and 20, with soup ‘n’ bread at 12 and 6 p.m., church at 1 p.m. and devotions at 6:15 p.m.
  • Christmas Eve Services are Sunday, December 24 at 3 and 11 p.m.
  • Christmas Day Service is on Monday, December 25 at 10 a.m.
  • New Year’s Eve Service is Sunday, December 31 at 9 a.m.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Christmas is coming and I am not set,
My cards are not mailed nor my gifts finished yet.
And the day that is centered on Christ’s incarnation
Is coming too soon and I’m feeling frustration
And I wonder that God tolerates us at all,
With our thoughts so self-centered and our vision so small.
Yet despite our behavior, so vain and so petty,
Christmas arrives even if we’re not ready.
And I thank God that, never fail, Christmas will come
And the Christ child will enter our hearts and our homes.
What a wonderful blessing that God will not wait.
Merry Christmas to all. Praise the Lord. CELEBRATE!

 

 

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