How to Take the Stress Out of Christmas

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How to Take the Stress Out of Christmas

It’s Tuesday Tea Time at Rayanne’s  again..and time for a little chat. So break out your mug of hot cocoa or tea..and let’s talk about stress…and Christmas. I know, it’s sad to think that those two have to pop up in the same sentence. This morning,  I thought I’d start a Christmas ‘to do’ list and for once get an early start!  (Why does this never happen?!!)

So I energetically sat down with my cup of hot cocoa, my marker board and a pen and enlisted my daughter’s help to ‘brainstorm’ with me. Together, we came up with a list of the usual things that we hope to accomplish each year around this time….
  Christmas To Do List
  • Make Christmas Budget with Hubby
  • Gift list for Immediate family
  • Gather Shipping Supplies
  • Gift list for Extended Family (Ship by Dec.5th)
  • Online Shopping
  • Christmas Shopping

      Then I dutifully tried to squeeze it all into the calendar between now and Dec. 25th.  Of course, there were already lots of things on the calendar; Thanksgiving, a square dance, a wedding shower, a car repair, Rebekah’s new job, Jacob needing to register for school, estate paperwork, and sewing projects that still need to be finished before the end of the month.  This was quite enough to make any sane woman panic!

      How grateful I was, that I had gone to bed EARLY for a change and as a result, woke up EARLY. I had a chance to read my bible and pray for a whole hour before the rest of the family began to awaken..and before I started this much needed task of planning for the holidays.  Sometimes lists are helpful..but sometimes they can just scare you out of your wits! Tee-hee!

      As I contemplated the seemingly impossible schedule, I thought about last Christmas. I knew my father was dying…and it was looking more and more like I was going to have to leave even before Christmas arrived. In fact, I did have to leave three days before Christmas. I spent Christmas Day evening in the hospital with my father..and New Years’ Eve too.  Amazingly, I was able to spend the actual holidays..Christmas Day with my family. (24 hours total)..but it was arrive at night and drive home the next day—four hours each way.

      I discovered something last year…that the proverbial Grinch learned so very long ago--Christmas is NOT about packages and bows, or even food and Christmas cards. It’s about loving people..loving your family..friends..neighbors..anyone within your ‘circle of influence’. I didn’t get to do a lot of the things on my list that had seemed so very important in November; No letter…no family photo…no candy. (I’ve still got 8 pounds of almond bark in the freezer from last year.)  I did get to sew handmade gifts for my nieces and nephews.

      We managed to buy our children their gifts…and we got the packages shipped. (And I got to surprise my dear hubby with a dream come true…cello lessons and a cello!)  But I didn’t even help take down the tree. I was making funeral arrangements by then.

        A month before Dad went to be with the Lord…

      Somehow, sitting there in the hospital, holding my father’s hand, munching cookies that some dear souls had brought to the hospital and singing Christmas carols with the nurses and doctors and my father, I knew that THIS was what Christmas is all about. It’s about spending time with those you love, worshiping our dear Lord, celebrating HIS birth, and showing our love to everyone around us. It’s about helping those in need in a special way..especially those needier than ourselves. It’s about giving.  The other stuff is just extra—fluff if you will.

      Here is the passage in the bible that I read BEFORE making out this list..the one that we all need to meditate on to keep us in the right ‘frame of mind’ while doing our usual holiday activities and festivities…
      31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

      It’s great to plan ahead and to DO ahead too…but don’t let the list get you down. Decide what you can skip…or simplify.  Buy some goodies if you have to, instead of baking them. Better to have time to spend with your family and friends…with a thankful heart.. than to be stressed because you didn’t do everything on your list…or do it all the way you planned.

      Write your list, certainly, but then offer it up to the Lord in prayer..and make sure you keep doing that. Start every day with prayer..then check your list twice. Cross off the unnecessary, and have some fun with your kids. Bless your neighbors in some little way. Giving is the heart of Christmas. And remember…Jesus really is the reason for the season!  (Whatever you do, don’t worry!)

      Our favorite Christmas tradition is to make almond bark candy and read short devotionals each Sunday evening for advent. We now share that event by going over to our son and daughter-in-law’s home too.  We take turns having ‘advent’.

      We light candles, sing songs (accompanied by ‘moi’ on the guitar), and eat our candy. It’s the one time of each week during the Christmas season that we do our very best to work into the schedule some quiet time to remember why we are celebrating. 

      What’s your favorite holiday tradition? How do you make the holidays less stressful..or more meaningful?


      Rae said...

      Great post!
      That is such a sweet picture of you and your Dad and it's so wonderful that the Lord showed you through your loss something we all need to hear and do for Christmas.
      I am so loving your lists!!!
      I love lists and yours are great.
      Thank you sweet Donna for your great reminders...keeping our eyes on Jesus for Christmas.

      Debby said...

      First, I love the picture of your father and you. He didn't even look sick. You look like your handsome daddy.

      Next, I needed this post. My husband asked me about 6 weeks ago to promise me that I wouldn't stress out about Christmas this year. I think I said, "Who me, I don't strees out." I do aqnd I can feel it already. It isn't about the gifts but no matter how hard I try it does get to me. Thanks for the kick in the bum, I needed that today.
      I will do the answers that you tagged me......I have to give it some thought.....cute.

      Kerrie said...

      You know I used that same message from Matthew on my Kerrie's Home Journal post yesterday! Your post is wonderful! I enjoyed it so much. So sorry about your Dad. I miss mine so much and he died at 65 in 1973. God bless, hugs, Kerrie

      Kelly said...

      Great post Donna! It is way too easy to get wrapped up in everything that "isn't" what Christmas is about! I am so thankful for Our Lord and Savior for showing us the good way to live, the simple way to live... out of LOVE. This year, we have invited my hubbubs parents over for Christmas (we usually do it on our own) so we are going to pamper them with love, love, love! I think you have the right idea what Christmas is REALLY about!
      Hugs and blessings to you

      “There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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