by: Joyce Trigger, Shady Oak Christian School Owner and Director
I really love Christmas. My birthday is in December, and I remember cherishing the sights and scents, and, especially, the sounds of Christmas. As a young teenager, I thought the song, “Silver Bells”, was written just for me and the other shoppers rushing home with our treasures in downtown Champaign, Illinois. I remember the feelings of joy and exhilaration as I saw the traffic lights “blinking bright red and green”. I recall even hearing and seeing the “snow crunch and the kids bunch.”
In order to fully enjoy this upcoming season and reclaim it as a joyous and positive memory-maker for us and our families, we have some serious preparation and reflecting to do. (Cue the lighted candle, cup of fragrant peppermint tea, and Bing Crosby version of “Silver Bells”.)
By taking time to evaluate what is important about Christmas, we can add purpose to our annual activities and better celebrate the love we have for Jesus and each other.
Most of our memories of our own childhood Christmases are much simpler that what we try to create for our families these days.
Somehow, over time, Christmas has turned into, what some have called, a “ holiday machine” that seems nearly impossible to turn off.
If Christmas gets lost in meaningless jingles and commercial hype, it is because we let it happen. It is only by choice that we can redeem Christmas. Reclaiming Christmas is not about simply placing a manger in the town square. Christmas must be redeemed first and foremost in our hearts.
We can consciously decide to be happy, loving, fulfilled, generous, peaceful, contented, spiritual, joyous, calm, festive, and emotionally connected to the important people in our lives for the holidays this year.
Or we can, unconsciously, choose to be a wreck.
We develop unrealistic expectations and, in doing so, realize we have set ourselves up to be disappointed. The media, retailers, and Facebook friends play along with our silly game of unrealistic expectations.
Unless we develop realistic expectations about the holidays, we will continue to be stressed and disappointed with the results. Changing our expectations about Christmas will often go a long way toward changing how we actually feel about It.
It is perfectly okay for us to not expect a perfect holiday, because we and our friends and loved ones are not perfect.
It’s okay for us to feel the way we do about the holidays. Let’s give ourselves permission to feel whatever we feel. Let’s not judge ourselves or compare our holiday attitudes to others’ feelings or actions. What one person finds energizing, another can find exhausting——that is okay!
Let’s let go of perfection. ( Try to name and explain one expectation of perfection that you want to let go of this year in order to simplify your celebration.)
To accomplish such a goal of reclaiming we must be able to identify those things that we value most.
What does Christmas mean to you in terms of what you want Christmas to be, rather than what you want to do?
This year I want my Christmas to be……. (peaceful, happy, hospitable, simple, etc.)
This Christmas I want my life theme to be……
This Christmas I want my home’s theme to be…..
This year’s To Do list:
Give yourself permission to take a break and simply breathe.
Be selective in determining with whom you will spend time on Christmas Day.
Be kind. Look for opportunities to do simple acts of kindness. The stress of the holidays leaves a lot of people tired and frazzled. A little unexpected kindness can make a difference. Consider with your family this definition of kindness: “loaning somebody your strength instead of reminding them of their weakness.”
Light an Advent Peace candle. Make that day (s) a peacemaking day, setting the tone for the holiday itself.
Keep your sense of humor.
Take the time to talk things over with others. This simple act can sometimes keep everyone from being disappointed, frazzled , or unaware of each other’s points of view on the holiday.
Enjoy making Christmas memories this year! We might be surprised at how simple, inexpensive, and truly personal those memories can be. Merry Christmas!