Much too often, we find ourselves dreading the approaching Christmas season. There are our neighbors who are putting up bigger and brighter holiday displays than ours in their front yards, the radio channels that have exhausted Christmas tunes, and shoppers full of venom rather than Christmas cheer. After it is all over, we reflect on the budgets we blew, grinches we resented, tree branches dodged at the crowded Wal-Marts in October, and the not-so-Christian thoughts we had on the fifty trips back to the mall. And we think to ourselves, “Was it all really worth it?”
Well, this is the year we are going to take back Christmas!! Christmas should be a time of joy, celebration, simplicity and giving honor to our God. The first step, according to Richard Carlson, Ph.D. “The Don’t Sweat Guide To Holidays” is to make a holiday agenda and work from it. Discussed below are twenty-five of my favorite additional suggestions from Candy Paull’s “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year-101 Inspiring Ways To Enjoy Christmas” to put on the agenda in keeping Christmas simple, less stressful, and Spirit-driven.
Making Christmas More Simple
Focus on giving to others rather than putting on an elaborate display of your own. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, or help clean-up at a Christmas party you attend. Give an anonymous gift so the receiver knows someone, somewhere cares.
Get outside, perhaps with someone you love. Take a winter stroll together arm-in-arm, observing the magnificent sights, sounds, scents and textures of the season. Pick up some natural items such as pine cones to decorate your home.
Choose gifts that are more personal and meaningful. Select a pretty ribbon and tie it around a package yourself, with love. Give your time to those you’re closest with, rather than planning many events, and make a call or send a note to other friends. Give home-made gifts such as things you’ve made from wood, baked, or knitted.
Keeping Christmas Less Stressful
Stick to your budget. Do your Christmas shopping from your sofa by visiting various online sites. Be good to yourself-keep up with exercise, bubble baths, positive self-talk, or take the occasional nap. Deal with life on life’s terms, one day and one situation at a time. Laugh and play. Feed animals outdoors; nurture loved ones.
If you are dealing with grief around the holidays, honor those you have lost (light a candle, hang an ornament on the tree), and reach out to those who are struggling with sadness (say a special prayer, do a favor). Create a Christmas memory book with loved ones to look through and share in years to come.
Focusing on Spirituality at Christmas
Take time to enrich your prayer life, and be alone with God in quiet, personal reflection. Decorate with lights, and remember that God’s glory is far superior to the world’s darkness. Practice humility by thinking of how small you are in the grand scheme of things (look at the stars as a reminder). Pray for good will to all mankind. Give thanks, to God, and to those who support you. Be kind when others around are not. Do some fasting to avoid over-indulgence. Attend worship and Bible study. Make it a priority to pray for those who have wronged you, and forgive them as Christ has done. Give a gift that will grow and flourish, just as Christ was re-incarnated and overcame sin on our behalf. Most importantly, after all the gifts are unwrapped, commit to keeping the Christmas spirit alive and worshipping God throughout the New Year and beyond!
Essentially, planning a very special, heart-felt Christmas is a matter of how we choose to perceive things. Focusing on others rather than ourselves is sure to bring personal joy. We should remember that decorations that are fresh and less elaborate are generally more poignant. Gifts that are from the heart make a lasting impression on the hearts of others. And, Christ along with the spirit of Christmas, should be celebrated more than one day per year.
“I lost the tiny metal ball that made the Christmas bell ring, but I found that little things can really make a difference.” (Quote from Richard Carlson, Ph.D.’s “The Don’t Sweat Guide To Holidays”)