Surviving Christmas

Dear Friends,

Christmas time, for some, is one of the hardest times of the year. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as the loss of a loved one, heartbreak, poor health, financial worries, difficult family relationships, loneliness etc. Then, on top of this, is the guilt we feel for not being filled with the Christmas spirit as we think should be.

In these situations where is the peace and joy that God promised us?

Coming up to Christmas I can struggle with mixed emotions. I am looking forward to the four of us (my husband, Jason, myself and our kids) all being together. But I'm also feeling physically unwell at the moment. This can take the edge off of things, and if I'm honest, does also mean that a part of me dreads this season. I would like to be really looking forward to Christmas, preparing our home for visitors, wrapping presents, baking treats etc.  But it's hard when you just don't feel well and don't have the strength or capacity to do these things.

I thought today I would share with you some tips that you may or may not feel are helpful for surviving Christmas. Actually, not just surviving it, but actually in some degree be blessed by it. So that we can experience the peace and joy that comes from God. 

"Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, [the shepherds] and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:9-14 (NLT)

(The following suggestions are ones that I have learned over time to put into practice and are also ones that I am still learning to practice.)

So here goes:

1. Stop comparing your Christmas festivities with someone else's or with the picture in your head of what Christmas should be like. Don't think you need to make it a perfect Christmas. Or that you need to do it all or have it all. Cut yourself some slack. I tell myself that although I would like to do some Christmas baking, I need to accept that it's not possible this year and actually my family won't be missing out just because I haven't done extra baking. In fact, we will be better for it as I won't have pushed myself past my own limits.

I could try to force myself to do all the things I think should be done. I could put myself under far too much pressure to achieve the perfect Christmas. But if I did, I would be in no fit state to enjoy any of our celebrations. I would far rather have stored up a bit of energy so that I can be there for my family and we can enjoy the day together.

2. Learn to let some things go. It really doesn't matter in the scheme of things if I'm not able to clean our home from top to bottom. (I would probably be the only one to notice the dust anyway!) The layer of dust can wait till after the Christmas season. Learn to prioritise - recognise what is important and let go of the less important stuff.

3. Buying Christmas gifts - Jason and I spread much of this out during the year and then keep it safe in our 'Present Cupboard' where we also keep a list of what we've bought and who it's for. The New Year's sale is always great for getting bargain gifts, and we also look out for gifts when we are on holiday. This cuts out a lot of the stress of having to buy everything at the last minute and fighting your way through the bustle of crowds of shoppers. There's always some presents we need to buy nearer to Christmas and rather than go alone I find it so much more enjoyable going with Jason and making a day of it and a time to enjoy each others' company. Who could you go shopping with? A good friend? A spouse? A son or daughter?

4. Learn to delegate (yes, I do know how hard this is for some of us!) Don't try to do everything yourself. Ask for help. Accept your strengths and also your weaknesses. For example, Christmas dinner is now always given to Jason, to do. He's good at it. It's his gifting. It's definitely not mine. I don't need to give myself the unnecessary stress or hassle of trying to do something which is not my gifting. I am, however, very good at cleaning the kitchen once the meal is over.

5. Make the most of the holiday season to spend some quality time with family and friends. Enjoy the gift of having time together. Create some wonderful memories and traditions together. Be there for each other. What I remember most from my Christmases over the years is not who got me which present but who we shared Christmas with and our time together. Such as having my grandparents stay with us over night Christmas Eve when my sister and I were children, so that we could then enjoy opening our presents all together the following morning.

6. Take time to focus (or refocus) on God and his Son. In the midst of it all, don't forget what it's all about. Without Jesus there would be no reason to have Christmas. I've written before how I find listening to Christian music a great blessing. Well, this time of year, I like to listen to carols. Going to Christmas events at church also helps me to focus on the 'Reason for the Season'. I am looking forward this week to going  to our 'Carols by Candlelight' Service.

During holiday seasons, we can be so busy that our daily time alone with God can be easily nudged out if we're not careful. So I still find it vital to spend some time alone with him and re-focus my attention on God.

When God the Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth, he sent us the gift of love. His gift of love is a gift that keeps on giving. It's also a gift we can share with others. My prayer for me and you is that we will again experience God's gift of love this Christmas and that we will have the opportunity to share that love with others this Christmas time. 

"For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16 (AMP) 

To Think About:
Which of the suggestions mentioned above do you think will be helpful for you to put into practice?

How can you focus (and re-focus) on God and his Son, Jesus?

If you have ideas on what helps you during the Christmas season you may like to share them in the 'Comments' section, so that others can also be.

Vicki

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