Tips for the Christmas season • Jennifer Smith, Marriage & Family Therapist
Christmas is almost here. I find it fascinating when people ask me if I am ready for Christmas. I stumble, not quite knowing how to answer the question. I am assuming that they wonder if I have bought and wrapped all my presents, cooked all I intend to cook, have my cards sent and my house decorated.
This advent season, our church has been studying the book The Journey by Adam Hamilton. The book explores the journey that Mary and Joseph took on the way to Jesus’ birth. The book’s intent is to get us “ready” for the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
Being “ready” for Christmas is a physical undertaking, a spiritual undertaking but also a psychological undertaking. There is so much expectation of what Christmas is supposed to be, that so many find themselves disappointed and a bit depressed on December 26 because for whatever reason their expectations were not realized.
So how do we get ready for Christmas so that we do not feel let down after it is all said and done? Here are a few tips that might be helpful.
Focus on the intended meaning of the holiday. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is not our birthday. We give gifts as a representation of the gift that was given to us in the person of Jesus. Give gifts that honor him. There are many reputable organizations to which to contribute that allow you to give a gift in a person’s honor. Some of these include World Vision, Heifer International or Compassion International.
Purpose to be Kind during this potential stressful time. Think of ways to show random acts of kindness. I was recently at a drive-thru window ordering some food for my son. When I went to pay for his meal, the car in front of me had already taken care of my bill. Being kind is a choice. One definition of kindness is doing something for someone that they have not earned or may not deserve. Kindness can simply be a good word, a compliment, a kind gesture, or an act of service. The benefits of being kind carries great reward.
Slow down and enjoy the moment. When we rush and stress we miss what is happening around us. Sit down with your family for a meal or a night of playing cards or games. Watch a silly or sentimental Christmas movie with friends and order pizzas. Go Christmas caroling to shut- in’s in the community. Attend a Christmas Eve service at a local church. If you scurry to make the moment just right, you might miss the moment you are seeking to create.
My hope is that as you “get ready” for Christmas, you will feel a sense of the grace given to us so long ago in the form of a baby, and you will in turn give that grace as a gift to others. Merry Christmas!
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