We’re about to enter “the most wonderful time of the year.” At least those are the lyrics we sing. But, according to a holiday stress study by the American Psychological Association our lives tell a different story. Only 27 percent of women feel like they can relax during the holidays. Beyond that, 69% of people report a lack of time and finances. Let’s be honest: uptight, hiding in the bathroom to get a few extra minutes to ourself, and feeling the brink of broke is a better combination for human combustion than love and adoration.
So what can we do to break this mold?
1) Start shopping NOW. It’s ironic that the tradition of gift giving to promote smiles for another is often the cause of crazy in us. By starting the process now you are gifted time enough to pick up things here and there rather than feeling the pressure to get it all done at once.
2) Take advantage of deals. Zulily, Groupon, coupons… There are many daily discount options made available to us. If you key in on those, you can get often the gifts you want at a much cheaper price.
3) Remember that it is not what you spend but the heart behind what you give. Great gifts are not defined by a dollar amount but what the item means to the person who receives it. Often as moms I think we are guilty of trying to keep all dollar amounts even, but we can heap additional stress and waste on our plates in the process. Create a budget that works for your family and be intentional about choosing individual gifts that allows you to live within those means.
4) Don’t let the calendar define “holiday.” Family gatherings require the meshing of multiple work schedules and personal calendars. While in our heart of hearts we would like to be together for “thee days” Thanksgiving and Christmas are not made special by a calendar date but by the gathering of those we love to give thanks to our God. The feeling that comes in this togetherness is not limited by date so figure out a time that works best for your family and be at peace with it.
5) Let your presence be a present to another. Get outside of your family “box” and immerse yourself in the need of this world. There is no better time to be His hands in feet to others. In helping meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of others they experience God’s love and our hearts swell with serenity, not because of what we’ve done but because of the work God does in our perception of the world through the interacting of His people.
6) Hold on to your routine family traditions. And if you don’t have any, make one. Whether it be family meal time or family movie night, holding tight to the “normal” keeps a grip on the busyness. Ultimately, our schedules are our doing. We must choose to pull back and keep everyday family the priority that we make it the rest of the year. To lose grip on family time in a season constructed around unity seems the biggest irony of all.
7) Keep it about Christ. Turkeys, gifts, and gathering spaces are bonuses to a life of blessing but they are not the reason for the season. Jesus is. Dig into the Word as a family and create activity that builds upon this foundation rather than fleeting traditions of this world.
I’m often reminded that our lives, attitudes and actions are a book that children study. As we enter the holidays I want our girls to know that our traditions are driven not by dollars or human efforts but flow from our love of the Lord and all that we do in celebration of His name. Because He is in our lives we rejoice and, if we pull back to our simplest, most Christ-revering roots, we will be able to enjoy each and every day free of the holiday trappings of this world.