It’s about to be the most wonderful time of the year. “With holiday greetings and gay happy meetings, when friends come to call!” (Can’t you hear Andy Williams singing this?) It’s also the time of year that many of us stress over, fret over and some of us build our anxiety level up so much, that we are fearful when this wonderful time of the year comes around.
Each of us brings an expectation to the Holiday Season. Some of those expectations are unreachable, fairy tale dreams. Some are deep seeded stress about not meeting somebody else’s expectation of you. And on it goes. We deal with how we will pay for all of this? And, we don’t have the time to travel. Or, why do we always have to go to that house? That’s before we even get close to Thanksgiving.
I realize that Thanksgiving and Christmas were birthed out of two very different happenings. Thanksgiving is the day that we celebrate the goodness of God and remember the brave men and women that landed on Plymouth Rock. Christmas is celebrated because of the birth of Jesus, the Lord. And yet, they are separated by four short weeks, and have been lumped together as a time to eat, drink, be merry and worry about how we pay for gifts, put up with “that one family member.” We stress over burned turkeys, presents that are supposed to be perfect, and events that are supposed to wow us.
I love this time of year. I start listening to Christmas music on my birthday, October 10. But the Holidays have changed, especially as we have grown older. I can honestly say that there is nothing that I need, very little that I desire, and even less that I wish to do over the Holidays. I always set high expectations and don’t want to miss anything. I don’t want to miss a television special, concert, parade, tree lighting…nothing! But that’s simply impossible.
But expectations are different in every family, and every family member. Here are three ways to prepare your heart and home for “the most wonderful time of the year!”
- Skip Perfection. The perfect meal, gift, concert, date night or gathering isn’t really possible. Let’s all take a pass on perfection and seek a bit more joy, peace and happiness. Joy is found in the seeking of peace. Happiness is found in the seeking of gratitude. How then do you seek peace? Let me use a Christmas carol to answer than one. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” Joy is found seeking the Prince of Peace. Happiness is found as we dig deep and find our souls grateful for all we do have. I’ve found that when our heart and hands are busy seeking joy through peace, and happiness through gratitude, we can really enjoy this magical season of hope!
- Build Margin. It’s a hectic stretch that we are about to enter. Kid’s programs, teacher’s gifts, church parties, company parties, gifts and gatherings press on our hours like a gorilla sitting on an asthmatic. That’s before we even get to wrapping, decorating, shopping, and cooking. Margin is when we set a calendar with room for quietude, family and a slower look at the twinkling lights. Margin is protecting you from you. Everybody has a plan for your life, choose the one that the Divine assigns you, and you’ll discover margin to pray, think and love more clearly.
- Serve & Give More. Perfection and anxiety are wonderfully managed by serving and giving to others. It’s the universe’s way of humbling our heart, mind and soul. It’s necessary to experience the weeks ahead, filled with the same type of excitement you had when you were six years old. Serving is what Jesus referred to as the prerequisite for greatness, and giving as the essential element to contentment. Don’t bootleg the joy of serving and giving. Choose to see past the tinsel, lights and trees, and see deep into the needs of others. And when you do, it really will be “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Let’s have the greatest holiday season, ever! Let’s skip perfection, and find peace. Let’s build margin, and find joy in the newborn King. Let’s serve more, give more and love more. Let’s discover a season of contentment as we see a need, and meet a need in the name of Jesus.
“Let Your Heart be Light…”