Watch the video above or read the blog below.
You have a painting in your mind that is titled, “The Perfect Christmas,” whether you mean to or not. You have preconceived ideas and desires for what would make it perfect or dreamy. If you watch any Hallmark Christmas movie (which I love!) you might think that the perfect Christmas includes a snowball fight, ice skating and building a gingerbread house but the perfect Christmas looks different for each of us.
So, I’ve got two questions for you…
I’m betting that I already know your answers. Of course your perfect Christmas looks peaceful, calm and joy filled and no, it never looks like that.
Let me guess, your normal Christmas looks like you staying up until 2 am trying to assemble the toy you bought for your child (like the year my husband and father put a train track together for the boys with a million pieces), you left the plastic wrap on the top of your homemade rolls when you popped them in the oven because you are running around crazily and you are stressed because you weren’t able to afford the gifts you really wanted to give your parents and are embarrassed by what you bought. Yep, been there for all of that.
A stressful holiday season is one in which the holidays don’t meet your expectations and desires...your perfect Christmas picture. So, let me help you bust some of this holiday stress with these six ways to have your "perfect" Christmas.
1. Create opportunities for wonder and awe.
Nothing says Christmas like wonder and awe. Read the story of Jesus coming to rescue you and me with fresh eyes. Consider what He gave up by leaving heaven to come save us.
Go outside in the dark and find a bright star and consider what the sky looked like when it was filled with angels for the shepherds to make the dramatic announcement that Jesus was born to bring peace on earth between man and God once again.
Look at a baby and consider what baby Jesus looked like and how no one really knew what He was here on earth to accomplish. It was a great mystery. It was thousands of years in the making through prophecy - all fulfilled EXACTLY.
This practice of getting a bigger picture, going deeper, seeing the spiritual side of things all the time is the 12th foundational truth in my 90-Day Stress Detox program. It's one of the ways to bust through stress. So, what can you do to create awe and wonder for yourself, your children or grandkids over the Christmas story? What will make your jaw drop open, your eyes be wide and your heart full of joy? Don't let the story become too familiar and no longer full of awe and wonder for you.
2. Make a list of the things you want to do this holiday season.
What is it that is going to make it feel like Christmas for you? The idea here is that you want to be in control. You don’t want to get to the new year when the holidays are over and you are in regret AGAIN. You don’t want to feel like it didn’t feel very Christmasy this year or you were so busy that you didn’t get to the things that would make it enjoyable for you.
You might want to think back to what made Christmas fun as a child. Is there a childhood tradition that you haven’t done in a long time that you could bring back and maybe share with your children or grandkids? I remember getting a thick cinnamon candy cane from a local chocolate shop that was a treat to look forward to only once a year.
Are there new traditions that you want to start? Do you want to read the Christmas story from the Bible every Christmas Eve as a family? Do you want to do family matching pajama pictures? Well, why not do it this year!?
How would you complete this sentence? It just won’t feel like Christmas without doing _____. Come up with a list and plan it out. Don’t let other things keep you busy and push out what would really be important or enjoyable to you. Know what those things are.
3. Decide what needs to go.
You can’t do it all. So, do you really need to spend the time and the money on mailing 100 Christmas cards? If the answer for you is, “Yes, that’s what makes it feel like Christmas for me,” then do it and enjoy it. If not, toss it.
Do you need to make 12 different kinds of cookies or could you get by with 4? Could you post on Facebook and ask your friends if they’d like to do a cookie exchange so you each only have to make one kind? Do you need to decorate every room in the house? Do you need to attend every party you are invited to? Do you need to buy a present for the mailman? (Sorry, mailman!)
4. Plan at least one thing you can do for someone else.
It’s one of the basics of stress busting that you need to get your eyes off of yourself and on to other people more often in order to bust through your own stress. A perfect Christmas is one in which you bring the love of Christ to someone else.
You can show God’s love by shoveling a neighbor’s driveway (think of your elderly neighbors or someone who just had surgery), buying a toy for your local charity (I love Toys for Tots!), or giving food to the local food bank.
But also, how about showing grace and patience while out shopping? The other shoppers are also stressed and many of them without Jesus. We can be the light and remember that some of them are really going through tough times right now.
Could you invite someone to Christmas dinner that would otherwise eat alone? One year, I was so busy that I wasn’t going to be able to make cookies and my mom made me a bunch. It was soooo appreciated. Another year, we couldn’t afford any gifts for our children and several people including our parents came through big time! You have the opportunity to get your eyes off of your own stressful situations as you care for others.
5. Keep it simple.
Where did your ideas of a perfect Christmas come from? Especially when it comes to decorating, was it a Pinterest image, an HGTV show or your friend’s house? You’ve got to know, most people don’t live like that...and that’s okay.
You don’t have to have a million lights outside as if you are in some competition or a dining room table set with fancy china, chargers and cloth napkins. Sure, they are beautiful but if having them is going to stress your budget or your energy is it worth it? The people sitting around your table at Christmas will be so much more impacted by the words of life you can give them than your Instagram worthy table. Your words will also live on forever. Your table will not.
I think it’s important to remember what season of life you are in too. If you’ve got toddlers, where it’s all hands on deck 24/7, you aren’t going to be able to have the money, time or energy to do what an empty nester mom can do most likely. Your time will come and enjoy where you are at now not always wishing to be at a different stage of life.
Ask yourself what are your motivations for doing this? Again, if this is what you love about Christmas and you have the time, money and energy to make this choice, then go for it. If it is going to stress you, drain you and suck the joy out of you, skip it.
6. Go old fashioned.
Don’t follow the modern world’s values or trends. Make homemade gifts. String some popcorn for the tree. Play the Christmas classics (they just don’t make Christmas songs like they used to). Find out where you can go for a horse drawn carriage ride in your town. Drive around looking at lights. Make paper snowflakes. Pull out old family Christmas pictures. Roast some chestnuts. Sing Silent Night by candlelight. Wrap a present in a newspaper.
There is something comforting and stress busting about the nostalgia of an old fashioned Christmas. A slower paced world. Less commercialism. Romance. It was, after all, love that brought Jesus to earth as a baby to defeat the enemy for us and allow us to now live light and free!
Lastly, let me just say that we really aren’t after a “perfect” day or season. That in itself would probably put too much pressure on you, which is exactly what we are trying to avoid. But I would like you to consider what would make it closer to perfect for you. Don’t just do the same old things and expect different results. Don’t just try to please others this year and end up frazzled and stressed.
Really, I could summarize it like this...stop trying to make it perfect (over buying, over doing and over expecting) and it’ll be so much closer to actually being the quiet, calm kind of perfect you always wanted.
I’d love to hear from you on what you are going to implement from these six ideas. Pick one or two and make this Christmas season different from the past stressed holidays.
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