Stressmasby Jill Monroe
Like many, Christmas was a magical time while growing up. Now...not so much. Now I have to:
1. Shop for every family member.
2. Buy a special card for the dh's family.
3. Clean and decorate a house.
4. Have the kids' picture taken for the photo that goes into my Christmas cards.
6. Plan with the other PTA members the holiday parties for school.
7. Practice, make costumes and make sure the kids know their lines for the Christmas play.
8. Help plan the Christmas celebration for the children at church.
9. Address and mail Christmas cards.
10. Wrap all the packages and get the stocking stuffers.
And I haven't even gone into getting everyone dressed and driving to church for Christmas Eve service, Christmas Eve dinner with DH's family, early morning family time with the kids and dh and then brunch at my family's. Then back over to the dh's for the kids to open their stockings. Well, I guess I just did.
Sometimes I feel the Christ has been removed from my Christmas and replaced with Stress. Stressmas. Really, this time of year is no longer magical, and honestly, I don't know how to stop it. This SHOULD be a time of getting together with family, and thinking of the family created over 2000 years ago. We should be thinking about good will to everyone, instead of being cranky and worried about all the "things" we have to do.
Truthfully, I don't see the stress leaving this time of year. I'm going to keep a list of things I can do that will keep the meaning of the holiday in mind, while also relieving a bit of stress.
1. I'm going to light a soothing candle. I'm also going to keep in mind the guiding star that led others.
2. I'm going to take thirty minutes and bake gingerbread cookies with my children. Hopefully I can pass on this tradition that generations of women before me enjoyed with their children, and create a connection with our past. And since I'm a teacher, I cannot pass up this "teachable moment" and will share that gingerbread could be found in Medieval cookbooks, and that children used to decorate their Christmas trees with shaped gingerbread cookies - long before bought ornaments.
3. I'm going to play a variety of Christmas music, and turn off the TV. I'm no Esri when it comes to carrying a tune, but there's something about singing that lifts the spirit, whether it's Silent Night, Deck the Halls or Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
4. I'm going to pray. I'm going to ask God to give me patience and take away the stress. Then I'm going to thank God for my family, my kids, for the job that allows me to buy those presents that need to be wrapped.
Last month I wrote about Thanksgiving. There's something very meaningful about Thanksgiving happening right before Christmas - I think you need a thankful heart to appreciate the gifts we're given. And God's most important gift of all.
So, please share with me how you keep the stress out of this time of year. I know not everyone specifically celebrates Christmas, but I know there has to be a stressful holiday - I'd love to hear how you keep the meaning and leave out the stress.