This Christmas, choose less stress (and more joy!)

This Christmas, choose less stress (and more joy!)

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"Christmas is coming. . . It's so infuriating that I can't stop it!"

Because that's how I felt, the words from the comic strip made my groan and smile simultaneously. There was so much I needed to do. So many things to buy, make, wrap, bake, decorate, write, and so many cards. . .

There were many expectations.

There was so much fear that people would be less impressed if I didn’t do all the, and did it well. If I had asked Jesus his thoughts about everything I needed to do (you're ready to celebrate his birthday), I might have been reminded of this verse.

However, I didn't ask him. I tried desperately to ask him for his help. So I suffered for years from Christmas anxiety, and each year enjoyed the holiday less. When I realized that Christmas carols were making me emotionally and physically sick, I knew I had to do something. Finally, I asked God for guidance on how to make Christmas more special.

Why haven't I done this sooner?

I had been planning a birthday celebration for years, but I never thought to ask the guest-of-honor what kind of party he preferred. As it turned out, Jesus has simple tastes and doesn't mind that other guests get the gifts.

He helped me to realize that the items on my holiday wish list were optional. He gently reminded me that I was also setting up my children to do the same thing when they become adults. It was clear to me that I needed a refocus. . . to remind me of what I was supposed to be celebrating . . to keep in mind WHO I was supposed to honor. . . And to never forget that stress, debt, and frayed nerves are not his plans for me.

So I started the process of simplifying Christmas. It wasn't easy. It was hard to learn to say no to things that I had always said yes to. It's something I am still trying to master, and making a little more progress each year.

These are the things I have learned. I wish someone had told me this way back then. . .

Make the goal of creating meaningful memories, peace and joy the main goals for the season. Compare every decision about what to do or purchase with these. Skip it if it doesn't contribute to the season's peace and joy, or doesn't help you create meaningful memories.
Be present in the moment limit holiday photos posted on social media. You're creating stress by trying to get everyone and everything to look photo-ready and making it difficult to capture the perfect shot.

Review traditions. Don't keep them because you feel obligated or loyal to the past. Don't feel guilty about not keeping every tradition. Are there 8 Christmas events that you would like to attend? Keep the best 4 and keep the rest for next Christmas. Rotating outings, events, and the types of cookies you bake can help make the holiday feel more fresh and less overwhelming.
Set a good example for your children. Children are only as familiar with Christmas as the people who present it to them. You may be surprised at their answers if they have Christmas memories. Keep the most meaningful and important ones.
Do good to others By embracing a simpler Christmas, you can help those you love do the same. Your family and friends will be relieved if you propose reducing or eliminating gift-giving. You can indirectly decrease holiday pressure by not competing for the most Facebook-worthy, flashiest Christmas.
The flip side is also possible. . .

You don't have to worry about what others are celebrating. Make sure that your traditions are joy-filled and not based on what someone else does.
Finally, if you are worried about appearing like a grinch by the thought of doing less for Christmas, you can Google SIMPLIFY CHRISTMAS. This movement is growing in popularity because it enhances holiday celebrations and makes people happier. There are so many great ideas, especially about reducing gift-giving and teaching gratitude to children.

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