Stopping Christmas Stress in Its Tracks

Well, as promised, it has been a l-o-o-o-ng time since you have heard from me. I don’t know if you were thinking about Christmas in January as you tried to keep New Year’s Resolutions or in April as the flowers started to bloom or in September as the new school year started. I can honestly tell you that I haven’t bought any gifts yet except for a few stocking stuffers, and I’ve been ignoring my few Facebook friends who like to occasionally taunt me with memes like this:

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Wow, do we really not have anything better to do than think about Christmas almost 4 months ahead of time? Besides the fact that half of those memes are not accurate about how many more days or weeks there are. They get posted, then shared for a few weeks, and people don’t bother to check their calendars. If Facebook says it’s 15 weeks until Christmas, then it must be true, right?

To tell you the truth, a few years ago, I would have been panicking about the fact that it is now only about 9 weeks until Christmas. In previous years, I have been mostly finished shopping by Halloween. Some years I was writing out my card list and getting ready to start wrapping gifts at this point. But when I really thought about it, I realized that Christmas is one day! And no one day, no matter how special, is worth 3 or 4 months of preparation. I had to simplify.

I still think October is too early to get overly concerned about Christmas. It’s on my radar, but barely. Women’s ministry at church had to set a date for the cookie swap and luncheon. I took a peek at when the last day of school was and what Christmas vacation looked like. There are some things that it makes sense to do in October. My next post will go into some detail about what those are and why it makes sense to wait to do some other things.

I know most of the retail world is not on board with my simplified Christmas, but that is nothing new. I decided a long time ago that stores were not going to dictate my shopping habits to me. Last week, I walked into Bon Ton and saw this:

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Does the sight of Christmas decorations in October make you break out in a cold sweat? Does it make you feel behind in your planning and shopping? Take a breath. You are the one who decides when it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. It’s a process. It takes time to change habits and ingrained patterns of thinking.

If Christmas gives you joy and you enjoy decorating, shopping, planning and thinking about it for months every year, I’m not here to tell you there’s anything wrong with that. You don’t need this site, though. There are lots of sites out there for you!  If Christmas mostly stresses you out and you dread it, though, I encourage you to set firm limits on how much of your time and energy it consumes. You are the people this site aims to encourage, to support, and to help find a better way.

It’s not going to harm anyone if you send a Christmas email instead of cards this year. It may actually benefit your family if you sit them down and explain that you need to stay sane this holiday season, so you won’t be doing some of the things you’ve done in the past. More about that later. The point is, sometimes we feel trapped by the things we think are necessary to the Christmas experience of those we care about. If we don’t bake the cookies, our family will suffer. If we don’t send out fancy cards, our friends will think we won’t care.

In fact, if you courageously draw a line and refuse to do the things that stress you out, you will be pleasantly surprised at how little the people around you actually care. And if they do react initially, you will be surprised at how quickly they adjust to the new normal. In many cases, we overestimate the importance of having to do everything the same way every year. It’s okay to change things up and say no to being over-busy and stressed.

So right here, right now, banish Christmas stress this year. Just don’t allow it to come into your life. When it knocks at your door or tries to climb in the window or sneaks in through the back door and tries to sit right on your chest, you just come visit this site again, maybe take a read of my ebook “Taming the Christmas Monster,” and tell yourself that Christmas is about faith first, family second, and showing love to others third. There is simply no room for stress!

Ebook Now Available!

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If Christmas just generally stresses you out with its busy-ness, expectations, and endless to-do lists, this blog will be a great place to get encouragement, ideas and courage to change things for the better. My new ebook. Taming the Christmas Monster, is also available for Kindle on Amazon.com. This book will take you through the process of evaluating the way you’ve been celebrating Christmas and help you discover how to have a meaningful, joyful and peaceful holiday. You can learn to enjoy and look forward to Christmas again!

Don’t Panic!

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If this graphic makes you tense up, take a deep breath and stay tuned! Over the next few weeks, I will offer lots of good ideas and suggestions on how to have a peaceful feeling about Christmas.

For today, I want you to focus on the fact that Christmas is one day out of the year. The Bible says that each day has enough trouble of its own, so for today, just think about today. It’s Friday–do something enjoyable, spend time with loved ones. Check back Monday for some more ideas.

No More Dreading Christmas

It’s a horrible feeling, dreading Christmas. For years I felt it when October rolled around. I had a physical reaction to the beginning of Christmas preparations. My chest tightened; my stomach clenched. Instead of thinking about beautiful decorations or the look of surprise on my kids’ faces as they opened gifts, I was thinking about the loss of all my free time until January and the expenses for which we weren’t prepared. Instead of meditating on Advent-themed scriptures and the miracle of Christ’s birth, I was making long to-do lists and wondering how I was going to get everything done on top of work and all the kids’ normal activities.

A few years ago I decided it wasn’t worth it. I had to change the way I was doing things so I could find true joy in Christmas again. The end result–this blog and an e-book called Taming the Christmas Monster, which will release to Kindle next week–is intended to help those who feel frazzled by Christmas back to a place of peace and sanity again.  This year, I don’t yet have a to-do list. My stockpile of gifts is smaller than ever. I don’t have much of anything planned for December yet, but when I think of Christmas, my thoughts are good. Whatever happens, I know I will sense the joy and wonder of this time of Christ’s birth, and that is all I need to know right now.

If you have dark thoughts about this special time of year, this blog and my e-book are for you. If you just want to crawl under the covers and wake up on December 26th, subscribe below. If the thought of buying gifts, sending cards, decorating, baking and attending parties, performances and other events overwhelms you to the point where you feel like a failure before you’ve even begun, stay tuned. I will be posting frequently as the time draws nearer, and the book WILL be on Amazon next week to guide you through action steps that will make Christmas manageable again.

It is possible to love Christmas again, to find its joy and peace. If you don’t celebrate Christmas from a place of faith, this blog and the e-book are still for you.  The stress of Christmas never had anything to do with my faith–it was everything else that seemed to get in the way of what Christmas was supposed to be about. My faith is an integral part of who I am and my experience, so I need to talk about it when I share those experiences. The same principles apply, however, whether one celebrates the coming of baby Jesus or just sees Christmas as a special time for family and togetherness.

If you like this blog and what it has to offer, please subscribe below. There are many harried people out there, overwhelmed by Christmas and all it signifies. If you can relate, tell your friends. Chances are, they can relate too.