Have you always prepared for Christmas in the fast lane? Are you so busy getting ready for Christmas that you are too exhausted to celebrate Christmas? Do you begin to rejoice when the last carol is sung, the last present opened, and the last guest says farewell? Have you always wanted to simplify Christmas, but never really knew where to begin? Then read on because this article is for you.
On that first Christmas morning, the day of our Savior’s birth, what words did the angels say? If I recall it was, “Peace on earth, good will towards men.” Now if Christmas was going to have a theme song that would be a good choice. I am convinced that the angel’s words are still pertinent for today. We all could use a little more peace in our hearts, in our lives and in our world. Let’s seek peace!
Mom, have you ever lost your peace? Peace isn’t something you can purchase, but oh what a treasure if you posses it. I aim at living a stress free life. I say, “Let Peace Reign.” all year long, but especially at Christmas. Let’s be honest with ourselves, no matter how much we desire peace, keeping our peace at Christmas, can be a major challenge. Why? It seems like we have just finished doing the Thanksgiving dishes when, “Black Friday” shopping is in full swing. Did anyone bring the thanks? Now to our already full life of carpools, jobs, homework, and fixing meals, we add shopping, wrapping gifts, Christmas parties, decorating, and the list goes on. It seems like we add another whole life to our life. Secondly, as great as Christmas is, it has become too much. Yes, Christmas has become a season where there is too much to do and no time to do it in. Somewhere along the way we have all spent so much time planning and preparing for Christmas that we have become too tired and too overwhelmed to enjoy it. Even sadder, we have lost the true meaning of Christmas. We sing Christmas Carols together like, “Joy to the world… but are we living a life of joy? It seems like the only one who is smiling is Santa Clause. Why are we not humming in our souls, “TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY?” Why is Santa so happy? It is because his helpmate, Mrs. Claus had it all covered. She has been very, very busy, making a list and checking it twice, shopping, wrapping gifts, and packing Santa’s sleigh with a bag full of toys. All Santa needs to do is, make sure that his red suit fits, hitch the reindeer to his sleigh and shout, “On Dasher, On Dancer, on Comet, On Vinson!” If Santa’s GPS is working, he will be down every chimney in town before we even wake up to say, “Merry Christmas.”
So what is the solution to Christmas stress? Simplify!!! It will take some time to think, time to pray, and time to vow to change. So..., before the season begins, take some time to decide what to change and how to go about it. First, think about, what is important and what is not? Do you want to start something new or do things the way you have been doing? Put some ideas on paper, and then make a plan. Just having the plan on paper is not enough; you have to make it a reality. Christmas cannot happen on its own.
Did you ever hear the expression, “Change is good?” or “Less is more?” Be open to change! What is your biggest Christmas stresser? What can you do about it? Life is too short. Remember Santa never stressed and besides, no one wants to be around a grumpy Mrs. Clause!
Here are some suggestions to simplify:
A wise woman said, “Ellen, your expectations are so high that no one can meet them, not even yourself. Are your expectations attainable?
Take yearly reality check? What are your circumstances this year? Are you pregnant? Do you have newborn? Are you moving to a new home? Are you healthy in mind, body and soul? Lower your bar if necessary, and be realistic.
Before you shop, do your homework. Think lists, read sale catalogues, check online, research yard sales, and network with friends.
“If mom did everything she would be dead.” Learn the four letter word H-E-L-P!! Use it often and learn to delegate. This is a great opportunity for you to draw out the gifts of family member and friends.
Rotate the place to celebrate as a family. House hopping for holidays is a sure recipe for holiday stress If at all possible, goes see your parents after Santa has a chance to come down the chimney, and has left with his reindeer.. Being home for Christmas gives your child great joy and peace.
Less is more and more is less. Do a few things well and a lot of things, do not do at all. If it is too stressful just say, “No?”
Learn to enjoy God’s presence and people’s presence, more than presents. After all, what is more important? Never before have people meant so much as at the holidays. All of our days are numbered. Treasure the moment and make memories that count.
Shop early or better yet, shop year round.
Watch what goes in your mouth. Think healthy living. My friend Salle says, “It not a diet, It is a Live It.” Go on a live it and avoid the having to be the biggest loser after the New Year begins.
Watch what comes out of your mouth. Think positive speech. Guard your thoughts and it will guard your heart. Positive speech gives you grace, joy and energy needed to get everything under the Christmas tree.
Do not take on any extra commitment after December 1. If you focus on Christmas alone you will make it to the finish line. Learn from the book, “The Tortoise and The Hare.” Pace the race, do not race the pace.
Shop early or shop late if you want to get everything finished, for there is much too much to do in the middle. Trust me on this one.
. If you lose your peace stop, slow down take a breath and pray. Keep Christ in Christmas. He is the reason for the season... Put Him first and He will give you the peace that passes all understanding.
Use the Christmas Season to cultivate a thankful heart. Be the gift of THANKS--LIVING that the world needs.
Learn to barter with other moms, babysitting, wrapping, shopping, and baking errands. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In other word, one woman may love to shop another bake.
Write a family newsletter, complete with family pictures. It will be of great joy to those who receive it.
Do not compare yourself to others. You be the best you, you can be. Avoid jealousy; never try to be someone else.
Do not forget the poor. Include your children in whatever you decide to do.
Shop ahead, bake ahead and cook ahead. Mail early, wrap early and deliver early.
Avoid giving to get, and learn to give to bless. Be a cheerful giver and grateful receiver, no matter what. Be a blessing to all you encounter.
Give gifts from the heart. They are the best gifts of all.
22. Give random gifts to the people God puts on your heart, even if they are not on your list. Do random acts of kindness.
23. Instill family traditions.
24. Wrap each child’s gifts in a different color of wrapping paper.
25. Draw names where ever possible. Draw names with family members, with co-workers and with friends.
26. My best stocking advice is this, “Keep it simple.” I had to cut out stockings all together in order to keep my peace.
27. One of my friends used to give her children three gifts per child, in memory of the three kings. If you think that that is simplifying Christmas, consider this, my husband and I would only give our children one gift each year.
28. Make the food simple. Our family Christmas dinner was appetizers and finger food when the children were young. Remember when in doubt order out.
If you are stressed to the max, take time to Rest, Refresh and Restore because there is always tomorrow to finish, unless of course it is already December 24th. . Then, hurry up there is work to be done. Santa is about to come to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. If you are really, really quiet, you can almost hear the angels singing, “Peace on earth, good will towards men.” This is only in the silence of your heart. Take the time to, “Be still and know that, He is God!” Life is a gift that is why we call it the present. Take time to enjoy the moments. We are too blessed to be stressed. Merry Christmas to all!