Decorate the house!
Put up the tree!
Bake the cookies!
Make the candy!
Buy the gifts!
Wrap the gifts!
Go to pageant rehearsal!
Clean the house!
Purchase a last-minute gift!
Hostess the party!
Clean up after the party!
Take goodies to neighbors!
Take goodies to cast party!
Home for Christmas Eve - cook dinner!
Travel to Grandma's house or stay home and cook Christmas dinner!
Clean up ...
Argh! Where do I get off this merry-go-round? Did you know that the Christmas holidays are listed on psychologists' lists of major stressors in our lives? And I think particularly for women this is true.
My husband and I led a workshop a couple of weeks ago on handling holiday stress at a bank in a neighboring town. I found myself in a stressful mode even as I helped lead that workshop because I had neglected to get a stocking made for the new granddaughter-in-law in the family this year.
My mother-in-law started the tradition when my husband was a little boy. They are beautiful velvet stockings with sequined figures ... involving much time in making. I inherited the tradition and have made one for every new member of the family the first Christmas they are in the family. And I just forgot to do this new one! What was I going to do? I decided not to stress over it, and simply get as much done on it as I could.
That stocking is not priority at Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Jesus, Our Savior, is priority. Enjoying and thanking him for the blessing of family is priority. Telling your family how much you love them is priority. As for the other "stuff," it will either get done or it won't ... and if it doesn't, it isn't a tragedy. So, you don't get Aunt Minnie's favorite cookies made. Oh, well ...
A few practical hints:
1. Do as much ahead of time as you can. I shop sales all year, and I always buy my wrapping paper, bags, ribbon and tissue at the after-Christmas sales. Also a good time to buy Christmas decorations when they go on 75% off!
2. Take time for yourself. Sit down between tasks and rest for five minutes. Put on some Christmas music and put your feet up.
3. Realize that everything won't be perfect. Stress occurs when expectations are not met. We live in an imperfect world and from time to time things are going to go wrong. Especially with all the members of an extended family together. Our family is very tight-knit and loving ... but this past Thanksgiving two of our teen-age grandsons got in a fight in the back yard. It all ended well, but there was a bit of tension for a few minutes. Don't let little "uh-ohs" spoil the season.
4. If you are alone and lonely at this season, reach out to the needy. The Salvation Army always needs people to help serve their Christmas dinner. Help distribute gifts through one of your local organizations. Don't sit at home and be sad. This is a season for Joy! You will find your depression lifting as you give to others.
5. Take time to worship. For over thirty years I directed or co-directed a Christmas production ... all the way from a mega-church major event to a small pageant at a camp. But sometimes I got so busy with costuming and sets and lighting that I forgot to worship. I'm not doing the directing these days, and I must say that I am enjoying that freedom! But whether you are involved as a spectator or a participant, focus on worshiping the Lord at this wonderful time of year.
The holidays needn't overwhelm you. Take a deep breath and enjoy them as you prioritize and walk through the season a step at a time.
Have a blessed Christmas!