Christmas is here again. It is a time of year we all look
forward to with excitement and anticipation. But it can be a
time of year when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, even
depressed. So what makes the difference between enjoying the
holidays and having a nervous breakdown?
First of all, we all have certain definitions and expectations
of what Christmas is. Of course the most basic reason and
definition of “Christ”mas is that we celebrate the birth of
Christ. (A fact that is far too often overlooked which we will
talk more about in a moment.) Review the following list of
typical Christmas events and chores and consider in these areas
what your expectations for the season, and of yourself.
•Making up a gift list
•Shopping for those gifts
•Making, wrapping, mailing gifts
•Getting and decorating the tree
•Decorating the house
•Putting up Christmas lights
•Helping with school activities
•Helping with church activities
•Volunteer or charity work
•Traditional holiday events (concerts, plays, festivals)
•Special holiday cleaning
•Preparing for houseguests
•Preparing company meals
•Planning family gatherings
•Preparing for holiday travel
Now that you’ve mentally determined your expectations, what
are your resources?
How much time do you have available for these extra activities?
Do you work full-time or part-time outside your home?
What everyday commitments do you already have?
Are there other people in your family to whom these things are
important and who would be willing to help?
That last sentence is really an important one to analyze.
Dilemma: You have an expectation that Christmas just isn’t
Christmas without having hundreds of lights gracing the outside
of your home, trees and bushes. But you have so many other to-do
lists that you expect your spouse to take care of the
lights--(after all, your father always took care of that when
you were growing up.) Your husband never grew up with lights on
the exterior of the house and it just isn’t that important to
Solution: You either need to:
1. Lower your expectation of how the exterior of your house will
2. Convey to your husband how important that is to you and
lovingly ask if he would be willing to help you (realizing that
you don’t want to manipulate or hold a grudge if he doesn’t
agree to meet your expectations).
3. Compromise (“Honey, could you please just do one string of
lights around the front roofline of the house?”)
4. Do it yourself.
5. Go without lights.
Throughout this whole exercise, realize that the whole purpose
of putting up lights on the outside of your house is to
celebrate the festivities, enrich your family’s enjoyment, and
celebrate the love of the season. If your expectations of
putting up Christmas lights detract from that, then it may not
be worth doing.
A tradition I grew up with is that every year my parents wrote a
family Christmas letter summarizing the events of the year.
Often this was the only yearly contact they had with old
friends. What a wonderful tradition!
However, several years the season got a little too busy. Other
events and commitments took priority. Sometimes their annual
Christmas letter became a New Year’s or Valentine’s Day
letter. (I think I even recall an Easter letter.) That’s
okay--I’ve only done Christmas letters perhaps half of the
years my husband and I have been married. I need to re-evaluate
that as a priority, as I certainly enjoy receiving them from
A friend let me borrow a wonderful book called Unplug the
Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli. It
was published in 1982 and I don’t know if it is still in
print, but it is a wonderful book with much insight as to how to
put the love back into the season. These two women have
conducted many workshops and seminars along this line before
writing the book. Through their research they discovered that
the four most important things children really want for
Christmas are (no it’s not Game Boy Advance, or Bratz Dolls):
1. Relaxed and loving time with the family
2. Realistic expectations about gifts
3. An evenly paced holiday season
4. Strong family traditions
The whole reason we want to give our children gifts at Christmas
is to show them that they are loved and wanted. This can
sometimes be self-defeating when we stress ourselves with so
many expectations that we as parents end up being grouchy and
depressed! And we spend so much time trying to accomplish every
item on our “to do” list that we even spend less time than
normal with our family.
I think that is why family Christmas traditions are so beloved
and important. It is family time that can be remembered, counted
on and carried on year after year to bring comfort and security.
This year re-examine what Christmas is and what you want it to
be to you and your family.
Teresa Hansen is the creator of Moms Making It!
sharing creative ideas to save time, save money, and enrich your
life! She is a wife and mother of five children, and always
looking for new ideas and products for moms “making it!”
Get your free "Christmas Neighbor Gift Ideas" ebook by
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