Welcome to the 2017 holiday season.
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Right?
If so, then why are so many of us stressed and exhausted from Thanksgiving until New Years?
The gifts, the decorating, the parties, the baking, the special events—the whole shebang can make the holidays feel more like a part-time job than a season of love and joy.
It doesn't have to be such a tiring whirlwind. The good news is that you have the choice to join the madness or to step away from the crowd and plan on enjoying the season of Christ's birth.
Want to know how? (I thought you'd never ask.)
Set reasonable expectations. You're in charge of your schedule. Don't over commit yourself. It's perfectly okay to say, "no, thank you." If there are people who absolutely feel they need to visit with you over the holiday, suggest that you meet after the New Year to do a recap of 2017 and celebrate 2018.
Hang up your apron. If you have to bring goodies to a pot luck or a cookie exchange, buy some nice treats instead of spending hours in the kitchen. You may want to create the most memorable Christmas experience ever, but what will truly touch your loved ones is time spent with you, not eating dozens of baked-with-love cookies or sitting down in an HGTV-inspired family room. Regardless of what the glossy magazines at the check-out counter or the beautiful Pinterest boards that catch your eye are screaming, simply being present and available with those around you is the best gift.
Be conscious of your attitude. You can't control what's going on around you, but your reaction is totally in your control. B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Don't get caught up in the chaos of those around you. You know, if you think participating in one event or another is too much for your sanity, then DON'T go.
Set aside that dream of creating a picture-perfect Christmas. Get rid of perfection entirely, and settle for nice or good enough. The Christmas season is not a permanent condition, it's a few weeks. So what if you don't have sugar plums hanging from your decorated staircase?
Set a budget. Before you start hyperventilating at the the thought of that word, remember, a budget is simply a spending plan. If you don't have the funds in your budget to do something or buy that perfect gift, then don't. Who wants to be paying off December bills in April?
Assess the value of stressful traditions. Just because you've always done something, doesn't mean you must continue. It's it's more work than pleasure, find another less-stressful activity.
Give yourself a break. Allow yourself some time alone. Savor a cup of tea by the Christmas tree, and enjoy a moment of peace. Take a walk. Watch your favorite Christmas movie. Listen to some special Christmas music. Eat a piece of pie (you don't have to diet every day!).
Focus on the meaning of the season. Christmas is the season to celebrate the Light that came into the world. It's a time when we connect with loved ones and friends. It's a time to appreciate the beauty and goodness of the world around us. Love people intentionally. Be extravagant in gifting others with loving words and deeds.
The Christmas season passes so quickly. Be sure to take some time to savor the moments. Be grateful for the blessings you enjoy, and be a blessing to someone else for what's left of 2017.
God bless us, every one!