My friend emphatically proclaimed, “ You just ruined my day.”
Her sharp intake of breath and wild eyes should have warned me.
I absolutely didn’t mean to,
I just made the statement, “It’s three weeks until Christmas.”
It’s the season the world focuses on giving and thankfulness, yet instead of humming “Joy to the World”, as we float on a cloud of happiness and peace, we are stressed to the max.
Our long lists get longer.
Our unrealistic goals give way to panic as the date looms.
Our desire to do something nice for others gets ditched as we turn inward and struggle to complete our own shopping lists, guest lineups, cooking and make all the parties.
And sometimes, just sometimes, The Grinch even pokes his shriveled green head out as harsh words that are not our norm, burst ugly from our lips.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lived the overextended life. Over time I’ve had to teach myself how to embrace the holidays I adore with joy, not zombie walk through the days in a stressed out haze.
How I’ve learned to relax joyful into the Christmas season:
- Be still for a moment and breathe deeply– Turning purple with anxiety helps no one, least of all yourself. The date will arrive regardless. You can either look forward to it with joy or view it looming with stress. It’s your choice.
- Keep your spiritual guard in place. Read the Psalms daily as a salve for your soul and ask Him to help you walk one day at a time.
- Mark your calendar and break it into doable segments. My crazy busy season goes from November one until December fifth. During that five weeks my team and I decorate around thirty trees in twenty homes and businesses for Christmas. I love it, and this would be no problem except its on top of all the regular decorating and design jobs. So as November approaches, I begin to feel that familiar vise grip of tension in my right shoulder. Each week it gets tighter until I am miserable with stress and worry about getting it all done. Which is silly because I love what I do, and my anxiety makes no difference in the work load at all. So I decided this year would be different. I got out my calendar and broke it down into segments. Then I told myself, “You will be fine, only three extra jobs this week. Only four the next, only five more until you get to rest at Thanksgiving. Only six more total and you are done until next year. And I repeat as needed, “Relax and enjoy what you love to do, make homes beautiful for Christmas.”
- Give yourself permission to take a break from perfectionism. Maybe that means buying a cheesecake to take, or picking up BBQ and fixins’ at your favorite restaurant and putting them in pretty christmas dishes, instead of slaving over a hot stove.
- Take time for the people who mean the most to you. Even if you have to schedule it.
So as Christmas approaches, refuse to let stress ruin your December. Grab each day and find the joy in it.
Search for someone to bless with a kind word or a small gift card. ( I keep a stash in my purse this time of year.
And remember, remember– the reason for the season,
My friend and blessed Savior,
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.