I am going out on a limb here to claim that everything is a little more difficult during the holidays.
- Parenting – The kids are sugared up, excited, and expressing a new level of greed.
- Finances – You set a budget and you stuck to it… Then all these random gifting opportunities started popping up… extended family gift exchange, the classroom book exchange, teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, and don’t forget the trash and recycle guys. Not to mention that it seems everyone is asking you to donate to their cause… they are all good and they are all worthy.
- Family – This is a big one… maybe you won’t be with family this year, maybe you don’t want to be with family this year, maybe there has been a death or divorce, and then there’s the in-laws… there is really no limit to the family struggle this time of the year.
- Marriage – Somehow you have to work together to contain the previously mentioned, powdered sugar snorting, entitled beings you call your children while balancing the budget, the in-laws and apparently men still want to have sex in December. (may the force be with you)
Last month you were all tinsel and sugar plum fairies…
Weren’t you just thinking…
The holidays are going to be so fun, happy and joyous.
Everything will be beautiful and magical.
We are going to deck the halls and bless those around us with lovely gifts.
This year will be great!
Those thoughts sound a lot like expectations and you should really beware of Expectations…
Those suckers will get you every time.
Hopes and dreams for the holiday season are normal, but let’s give ourselves a break, take a deep breath, and try to think rationally.
The holiday season can unknowingly be a huge weight on our shoulders… just picture a 967 pound elfie around your neck for the rest of the month.
So what is your Fat Elfie?
- Has your kid have been possessed by some unforeseen force and all you want for Christmas is sweet Johnny back?
- Are you burdened with the fact that you won’t get to spend Christmas morning with your child this year because they will be at your ex’s house?
- Is this your first holiday without the family member that passed away this year. Or do you the holidays sadden you with reoccurring absence of a particular loved one?
- Are you struggling to figure out how you will financially pull this all off?
- Are you stressed about getting together with extended family after that last
- How about the in-laws? They just don’t do things the way you grew up doing them, right?
- What about your relationship with God? Does it feel distant? Does all this baby Jesus talk make you feel uncomfortable?
- Do you feel like you just don’t have it all together? Like you are failing? Things just keep falling through the cracks?
- Did you think it would be/feel different?
In this social media crazed world we can feel pressured to do it all…
Santa, Elf on the shelf, Christmas cards, matching outfits, advent, and the list goes on and on…
In the profound and melodious words of Queen Elsa,
just let it go.
This holiday season let’s direct our focus to the things that matter.
Parenting – Let’s give those little boogers some grace (and maybe a little less sugar). Don’t you remember how exciting it all was as a kid? As for the greed… let’s be intentional about teaching them the beauty of giving. I wrote a bit about that here and here.
Finances – Last year was probably our most financially stressful Christmas yet, as we had a very large unexpected bill to pay the month of December… so, I get the financial stress. However, last year I learned so much about simplicity. The presents were simpler, the gift list was simpler, and there were simply things we could not and did not do. (And you know what? The kids survived and Christmas was still magical.) Also, we strive to be intentional about our gifting… I explained our Want, Need, Wear, Read formula in this post.
Family – No family is perfect… In-law relationships are not perfect, broken families and blended families are not perfect, your parents and your extended family are not perfect, and you and your brood are not perfect either. Here me say this… I am an avid believer in healthy boundaries and believe that you should protect yourself and your family… but if it really just boils down to you on a soap box… get over yourself and go spend some time with your mama.
Marriage – Anytime there is a strain in any of the previously mentioned areas, it is probable that there is also a strain on your marriage. I understand that you are tired, fried, and exhausted… but you have to continue to make your marriage a priority. For Shane and I, when our marriage is on everything else seems to fall into place and when our marriage is off it throws everything else off kilter. Christina Lang wrote a great post about how to keep your marriage a priority. Her suggestion is so simple and basic yet it could make all the difference this Christmas, go check it out.
For these 4 categories of holiday stress and all those other things that don’t fit into one of these 4 categories…
I challenge us to keep our focus on the things that matter.
Even if you can’t give your child all the toys on their list… you can be there.
Like really be there. Make hot cocoa, snuggle, read a book, or watch a movie. Just be there and make a memory, in 20 years it will not matter if they got the best toy.
Even if you can’t be with your kiddo on the actual day... make a memory anyway, they will remember your love, not the date on the calendar.
Make sure you don’t make the giving all about you. (Yep, you read that right… it’s not about you.)
Make sure you give for the right reasons. If you can’t afford to give the teacher/coworker/neighbor a fancy gift this year… then don’t. Give what you can, give your best, and by the way… words are free, so let them know what they mean to you.
The most important thing we need to be focused on this season is the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
But the birth is just the beginning… God sent his son as a fragile embryo attached to the womb of a virgin to grow, live, teach, love and most importantly, to die for us. Belief in Christ’s death on a cross is our only ticket to an eternal life in Heaven.
Do you hear what I am saying?
Christmas is not about all the stuff under the tree or even the time spent with family.
Christmas is about Christ and it is no coincidence that you have made it to the end of this long post on this day.
God has a plan for you, he knew you would read this, and he knew this moment was coming…
In fact, what if your whole life was building up for this moment and preparing you to receive God’s Christmas gift to you?
If you have questions, need prayer, or are ready to take the next step… find a Christian friend, or a pastor and talk to them about the things that are stirring in your heart.
If you don’t know where to find a Christian friend and you don’t feel comfortable contacting a pastor… call me. 661.972.2032
Let’s talk about the greatest gift ever given.
And what if you already know about this Great Gift?
When was the last time you told someone about it?
Christ didn’t give His life so that you could keep the gift all to yourself.
This Christmas… Be bold!
(What if the first step was just to share this post?)
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