The other day I asked what the biggest struggles you were facing this Christmas season on our Facebook page. I got a variety of answers, some were expected, but some were a surprise:
- Not feel rushed
- Enjoy family
- Finding Time
- Getting Presents
- Curbing overspending
- Focusing on Jesus
- Finding the Spirit among the world view
So many of us are facing major challenges this year and are finding it hard to overcome.
Our children are greedy, they have a sense of entitlement, they do not understand the joy of celebrating Christ’s birth although we have tried our hardest to teach the real story. They want and want, our heart breaks and we lose our joy. We can begin to feel very much like a loser parent.
My heart breaks for anyone experiencing any of the stress and frustration that has arrived with the season. We need to fight back and learn once again to celebrate the real arrival……Jesus.
I am not trying to ‘poo-poo’ the struggles I shared above, not at all. Even though this year finds me in a fairly good emotional state, (some years have not been so!) I can relate to so many of the things you shared. My years as a single mom were not always filled with a joy-filled heart during the Christmas season, especially the years I had to work on Christmas and didn’t get to spend time with family, but instead in a lonely hotel room on the other side of the country. You see, my heart has ached too and I’ve felt very alone.
I wanted to share with you a few things that may help you with some of those struggles. I don’t have the answer for everything, but I do know what has helped me work joy back in the picture and reduce my stress this season. I hope you find one or two helpful.
Whatever your struggle is, time….money…..too many activities – it is time to take control. What can you control? You certainly cannot control other people, so take a look at those stressful areas and determine what you have the ability to change. Other people do not manage your family schedule, no matter what you may try to force yourself to believe. Saying no to others is hard, but it is in your control. If you need to cut out activities in order to spend more family time at home, do it. Do you really want to be complaining about it after the new year?
Money, if you have not set a budget – do it. If the budget is $25 a person, then stick to it. Do not allow guilt, peer pressure, your children or anyone else to drag you into overspending. That is not what the season is about. The season is about celebrating the arrival of our Saviour, not about keeping up with the Jones’ and being in debt into the new year. If your children cannot grasp the reality of a realistic Christmas, it is time to break their bubble and just follow through. I am not saying it will be easy, but know in your heart that you are honoring your beliefs by not living beyond what you have. I know it is hard to listen to discontentment, our kids are great at complaining, but you can also choose to ignore any unproductive belly-aching. Yes, that is hard love, but sometimes reality stinks. When will they learn this?
I spoke about easy family traditions earlier this week and I will re-iterate it. Pick a few, select activities that your family can begin to associate as part of celebrating the Christmas season. They do not have to be expensive, outrageous or big fan-fare events. Simple is better and often what kids cherish into adulthood.
Make the time to do these. Put them on your calendar first, instead of filling in later after you’ve committed to other activities that may not really be fitting. Allow input from your kids and if they have ideas that are outside the budget, be upfront and share that.
Find Your Joy
You have control over – YOU. That is it. What can you do in order to give yourself a new view of the Christmas season? I’ve found a few wonderful ways to re-ignite my spirit this season:
Keeping a gratitude journal
This has helped me truly appreciate what I have and who I have in my life.
Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas – this is a wonderful book that tells of Christ’s birth in a real story context. I’ve been enjoying it so much and it has refreshed my delight in the season
Find Down Time
I’ve been making it a point to find that time I need to keep me in a good place. I can get overworked, frustrated, inpatient and exhausted very easy if I am not careful. This makes for one unhappy family – if mama ain’t happy – ain’t no one happy! The stress of the season does not help with Lupus symptoms and I have to take extra care to keep myself healthy. Even if you do not suffer from an illness, it can be just as important to take time for yourself. Find the quiet among all the noise.
I miss my mom most during the holidays. She passed away 6 years ago from a long suffering battle with Multiple Sclerosis and honestly – it stinks. My heart breaks and I can be down for a few days, especially right after Christmas Day. I just grabbed this book, “12 Days of Christmas for the Hurting” by Rachel Wojnarowski (it was only $.99 yesterday) I am going to take the time to go through the 12 day bible study and hope it helps heal my heart this season, when things are just a bit harder..
I know the holiday season can be hard – I do realize that and it is not always easy to just wipe the slate clean and start over. I hope you can make one or two small changes this season in order to truly embrace the celebration of Christ’s birth. I do not mean to minimize any struggles you are facing this year, yet I want to encourage and inspire you beyond the struggles – grab hold of His love and Mercy this season dear mama!
How can I pray for you this Christmas Season?