Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday stress

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).

I imagine that by now, most of you reading this have got your Christmas decorations put up. Many of you are well along on your Christmas shopping, or may be done with it already. A few enterprising folks might even have their Christmas cookies baked and frosted.

Getting ready for Christmas can take a lot of effort. There’s extra work involved in getting the house clean and ready for holiday guests. Time must be scheduled for parties and Christmas programs. There are cards to send and, for the ambitious, letters to write. The weather can be uncooperative, making travel difficult or dumping snow that you don’t have the energy to scoop. Commercials and daytime talk shows urge you to make this the best Christmas ever. And even though you’re getting frazzled, everyone tells you that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. You feel a twinge of guilt every time you act like a Grinch.

People get stressed and depressed this time of the year. It’s no surprise, really; we have such high expectations for happy holidays that a letdown is almost inevitable. Add to that a long war overseas along with a struggling economy, and it’s hard to find the same level of joy that you remember from many years ago.

I’d like to make two points. First point: you don’t remember past Christmases accurately. Sure, you recall the high points, but it is human nature to avoid unpleasant memories. Those previous holidays had their share of oddball gifts, temper tantrums, drunken behavior, and empty wallets. There were years when circumstances kept loved ones from getting together. No Christmas celebration is perfect; most fall short of expectations. Do yourself a favor and embrace this truth.

Second point: Christmas is not about money or the things it buys. Christmas is not about parties, decorations, or laying out a fabulous meal. Christmas is about God’s gift of His Son to a world that desperately needs His love and peace. If you make Jesus the focus of this season, you can exchange holiday stress for a Merry Christmas.

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