Let’s close our eyes and remember when we were children eagerly counting off the days until Christmas. With each day that passed, our hearts grew with anticipation. The holidays were a magical time, a joyful celebration we waited for all year. Carols filled the airways, decorations came out of their boxes. It was a time of unusual generosity and kindness, a time for family, a time for celebrating the birth of our Savior.
As commercialism grew, however, and extended the boundaries of the holiday season earlier and earlier in the fall, what was once the best time of the year became for many an extended period of financial, family, and physical stress. The true joy and wonder of the season was lost in translation. Perhaps you are one of those who have come to think in terms of surviving the holidays rather than celebrating them.
There are ways to reconnect with those happier times, however. There are ways to recapture the more restful and joyous days of old. It all begins with a decision to approach the holidays on our own terms. Here are a few guidelines to help you get your holiday season back on track.
First, focus on the sacred.
The story is a simple one. A very special child, God’s Son, was born in a lowly stable to a couple of humble circumstances. The Infant Jesus was indeed a love child, a gift from God the Father to His bruised and broken creation. As we focus on the great Giver and His magnificent Gift, stress begins to fall away, and we are able to rest in the reality of God’s constant and abiding love. Making Him the focus of our holiday season changes everything.
Second, focus on family.
The birth of Christ was a family affair convened far from home. Present are glimpses of majesty without the bright glare of commercialism or human fanfare. Father, mother, and child soak up the blessed joy of being together in the presence of God. Keeping the holidays a family affair with the possible inclusion of those who have no family, helps us establish boundaries; that is, which activities, traditions, and purchases are fruitful and which are not. It’s exhausting to feel that we must cover every base. It’s restful to embrace only those that have deep personal, familial, and spiritual meaning.
Third, focus on love.
Evaluating the holiday season through the lens of love can be truly telling. What traditions and activities spell love to you and which are little more than a waste of our time and energy? How much of our gift-giving is a useless obligation and how much is a true expression of our love one for another? Would a personal, handwritten note acknowledging our respect and affection be more or less desirable than a token purchase?
The world won’t be returning to a simpler holiday season anytime soon. But there are ways to navigate the holidays on our own terms and come out the other side rested rather than exhausted. It’s not a matter of throwing up our hands and refusing to participate, but rather to keep the best and relieve ourselves of the unnecessary.