As much as I absolutely LOVE the holiday season, this time of year can be really stressful. Every year, I tell myself I’ll start my shopping earlier. I’ll get those holiday photo cards ordered before December 15. I’ll pre-plan my Christmas cooking. I won’t last minute shop for the kids’ teachers and have them sign their names to the cards on the way to school the last day before vacation.
I tell myself every year that next year I’ll be more prepared. Yet it never happens.
The anxiety of having the perfect Pinterest-pretty homemade holiday gifts, staying within my budget, getting the tree actually decorated, mailing out gifts to arrive before Christmas, and perfectly timing my cooking begins to rear its ugly head around mid-December. At which point I tell my family, it’s best to just avoid Mom and let her do her thing.
And then the guilt. The guilt of letting this stress and anxiety take over falls hard. It all makes the holidays seem less than what it really should be.
So this year, I thought I’d take a different approach to the holiday season in an effort to not only reduce the stress, but to find the Joy in the season. I invite you to join me as I kick off this holiday season in GRAND fashion by implementing a shift in thinking as we head into the thick of it.
Here are a few pointers to help make this holiday season one for you and your loved ones to enjoy and remember:
Stay Focused on the Meaning of the Season
Yeah, it’s a bit cliche, but do we really remember that beyond being thankful and giving, Christmas is the time of year when we remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ? Are we remembering the moment we received the greatest gift from our Lord above? It’s a special time to reflect on the love and sacrifice of our Living God as He entered this world to become one of us – to be with us. Emmanuel, God with Us. As we wake up each morning, as we lay our heads down each evening, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, and thank Him for all He has done for us. Let’s take the time each day to set and reset our hearts to the true meaning of the season.
Take Some Time Off for You
I wrote last month on making time for you. In this busy season with places to go and things to do, this soul care is still so important. Take some quiet walks. Slip on a onesie and make some hot cocoa. Throw on a funny (or incredibly sappy) Christmas movie. Listen to some peaceful music. Squeeze in a 15 minute workout, doing something you actually enjoy. Read a pleasure book before bed. Soak in a bath, or just sit down for 10 minutes at the end of your day and breathe. Carve out that time – set an alarm, write it in your schedule – and make it happen. Soothe your mind, body, and soul during this busy season. The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits await you.
Change Your Mindset from “Have to” to “Get to”
It’s easy to get caught up in the things we “Have To” do. We have to buy this. We have to make that. We have to go there. We have to do this. Truth of the matter is we don’t really have to. The world will not end. Our family will not disown us. Everything will not come crashing down if we don’t do all these things we “have to” do. If you look carefully, the “have to” is based on our struggle with comparison and pleasing others with the expectation of gaining approval. We will work ourselves to our graves with the “have to” because we will never be satisfied with basing our value on the approval of others. Our value comes from God alone, and because of Him, we no longer have to; we get to. We get to go to a wonderful family celebration. I get to cook this dish for my family. I am blessed to be able to choose gifts for my loved ones. A simple shift in thought can change something from a chore to a celebration. I get to serve my friends and family.
In the Words of Elsa, Let it Go
Is it just me, or do you tend to break out into song whenever you hear the words, “Let it go”? (Hashtag, lifewithgirls.) In going along with the things mentioned above, it’s important to remember that no matter how much we plan, things won’t always go our way. In fact, things never really go ourway – they go God’s way – so unless our ways are aligned, we’re in for a world of disappointment if we are stuck in our own way. The one thing we do have control over is how we react to any given situation. And in a way, we CAN plan for that. Repeat these two words after me: It’s okay. Friends, it will be okay if the turkey is burnt. It will be okay if the tree decorations don’t happen. (Yep, that was me last year.) It will be okay if you forget a gift or two, or ten. It will be okay if you blow off the seventh holiday party in a week. It will be okay if the holiday cards go out after Christmas.
It will be okay! Spend time with people. The love that your share with them, your very presence, lasts long after they’ve broken or outgrown the ultimate Christmas gift. They will pass onto their children the true meaning of thanksgiving and how it goes beyond one day of the year. The people around you will know you not for your lavish gifts, but for spending time with them, laughing with them, inviting them to join you when they were lonely or feeling down. A stranger will remember the smile you gave him while serving him a hot meal. A child in a foreign land will remember the very first gift they received from someone they’ve never met. Our merciful and loving God will hear and heed your prayers as you lift up the people around you and petition grace upon them above your own wants and need.
This season, let’s not get hung up over the holidays, the stress, the anxiety. Take the time to refocus your thoughts. Take the time to serve others (even if it means giving up your parking spot). Take a deep breath and breathe in the peace God wants so much for you. And in that very moment that things don’t feel like they’re going right. Rest in knowing that no matter our deeds, our fails, our faults, we are so very loved. YOU. ARE. LOVED.
Oh, and one more thing…. Play some Christmas tunes! (Click on the link for my 2017 Holiday Playlist!) Because the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!