December. The word evokes lots of warm fuzzy feelings. I mean it’s CHRISTMAS this month! And I love me some Christmas. It’s the pinnacle holiday for Christians AND I am a total gift giver. In addition to the Lord’s birthday, we also celebrate 2 very special births in our family – my sweet girls. All in all, December winds up to be an exhilarating, yet stressful month.
It’s ironic that the most wonderful time of the year can also be one of the most worrisome times of the year. We have high hopes of how the season will go…and accomplishing holiday goals is usually wrapped in worry.
Will I have enough money for gifts?
What’s the perfect picture to use for our Christmas card?
Should I say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
My in-laws are a terror; how will I spend a week with them?
How will I get everything done that I need to get done?
What’s the best way to avoid all of the crowds?
How do I avoid feeling lonely when I have no where to go?
Rather than be a victim of worry this December, I plan to be intentional and face worry head on with prayer and tactics. Here’s a few I’m planning to use:
Plan Your Time
You’ve heard the old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Well the best way to decorate and shop and craft and wrap and bake and shop and drive and carol and shop…is one bite at a time.
Make a schedule or a timeline of when you plan to accomplish each task. You might plan it out day by day, or week by week like me. I am using my bullet journal to help me plan. Crafting a strategy of how to eat your elephant will save you from drowning in a sea of ornaments and wrapping paper.
Budget Your Money
Finances can be a huge worry this time of year. We worry if we have enough money or how we’re going to pay for it all. So why not set up a Christmas budget? Consider what you can afford to spend on groceries, gifts, decorations, etc. and plug it into a budget. Then stick to it. If it’s outside your budget to buy a shrimp appetizers for Christmas Eve, then go with something more affordable. If the giant LEGO set is outside your price range, buy 2 that are in your plan.
In the end, you might be surprised that a budget is actually freeing instead of limiting. Trust me on this, I never thought I would write that sentence. But it’s totally true! You know your limits and it relieves some financial worry.
Be Aware of Your Expectations
What kind of Christmas are you envisioning? Does it involve the word perfect? We’d love everything to go off without a hitch, and life doesn’t always work that way…especially during the holidays. Kids get sick, cookies don’t always turn out, and sometimes our treasured ornaments break. The trick is to not become undone by it. There’s beauty in the imperfect. It’s the variety and spice of the holidays. And if you expect there to be imperfections (because there always will be this side of heaven), you may not be so disappointed by it.
Use Pinterest Wisely
Trust me. I. Love. Pinterest. Big fan. There are a ton of fun festive ideas. But Pinteret is a double edged sword. On one hand, it’s inspires creativity…and the other can lead to a Christmas black hole of despair!!! Ok, a bit dramatic, but seriously, we can see extravegant decorations someone pinned and feel inferior because our house doesn’t look Pinterest-y.
Friends, I challenge you to dip your toes in Pinterest this season. For example, I need a recipe for a mason jar cookie mix to take to neighbors. My go to is Pinterest. I will look for a recipe…find it…and GET OUT! Stay focused. I don’t need to add to my list of things to do AND I don’t want to worry that I’m not doing enough as a mom, wife, gift giver, etc.
Strategize Your Visit
Chances are you are going to visit with family this Christmas. For some of us, this stirs no feelings of worry. Others would rather have their fingers nibbled off by reindeer than visit with family. If you are in the reindeer category, consider a strategy for your visit.
Cover your visit in prayer before you go – be specific with your requests e.g. Please give me an extra amount of patience when everyone asks me why little Jimmy isn’t potty trained yet. And pray for the hearts of your family to be softened.
Make sure you’re united with you spouse/loved one. Be on the same page about your goals for the visit. Be each others support system when times get tough on the family of origin front. Find little ways to connect with each other when you’re out of your typical life.
Plan to be gracious and forgiving. The holidays are stressful for everyone, not just you. Sometimes family will not be at their best. Go into it armed with the benefit of the doubt for your loved ones and an extra measure of forgiveness.
If you don’t have family during the holidays, reach out to friends. Don’t let yourself be lonely this season. Go shopping with a friend. Be bold and talk to those who care for you about your feelings. And if you have no dear friends, volunteer at a nursing home. You will most likely find others who are feeling the same way you do.
Sleep and Drink Water and Exercise
This trinity of health practices prepare you to deal with any stress and worry. Get good sleep. Don’t stay up an extra 2 hours wrapping presents; get up in the morning and do it. Stay hydrated (not with eggnog!). And relieve pent up worry and anxiety with some sort of exercise. Your body craves TLC when times get stressful.
Stay Connected to Your Lifeline
Lastly, but most importantly, keep your eyes on Jesus. After all, it’s His birthday and He came to earth that we may have life, and to the fullest. I guarantee He did not intend a full life to include worry over gifts, decorations, etc. during His season.
Consider incorporating an Advent calendar into your preparation; or use your driving time to pray about the worries your experiencing. Whatever you do, remember that we live, move, and have our being in God. Our identity rests in Christ, not Pinterest. Our hope is in Jesus, not the perfect gift. And eternity relies on our Savior who humbly arrived in the manger symbolized on our mantle.
How do you tackle worry during the holidays?