Keeping the Joy in Christmas

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Keeping the Joy in Christmas

Talk about an overwhelming possibility – Christmas and all of the trimmings. If you don’t have some sense of balance and boundaries, you can quickly forget the reason for the season and turn into a Grinch. So, before I go into specifics, I would like to share a few underlying principles to keep in mind as you set out to establish your own family traditions and create memories.

  • Keep things simple If you can start out with this philosophy, you are going to be better prepared to deal with the multitude of schedules that start to pile up as your family grows. (We have six, plus out of town, plus ministry, plus radio, plus neighbors, school, church, bible studies, etc.) Many times the joy is sucked out of our holidays by too many details, too many planned activities, and too much fuss to make everything perfect. In the end, our family would have been happy to settle for a quiet evening around the fire and a Sara Lee pie.
  • Be creative holidays and celebrations don’t have to end up draining the bank account. Most people we know have everything they want or need. Give a gift of time (backrub, gardening, walk), or a concert or museum, or a photo collage, or a book of memories. And don’t feel like your house has to look like House Beautiful. Use what you have on hand to decorate and then little by little selectively collect special decorations that can be used over again and become part of your holiday tradition. (Tablecloths, centerpieces, ornaments)
  • Be flexible — this is one of my nuggets of knowledge in life and it is especially critical as we establish traditions and celebrations. When you think of all the people, circumstances, schedules and expectations associated with any occasion, flexibility is a necessity when it comes to enjoying yourself and making it memorable for others. As your family grows, as economic conditions change, as your likes and dislikes develop, be willing to change and adjust. It’s easier to be flexible if you keep in mind the purpose of the celebration (adoration of the King of Kings).
  • Finally, be pro-active don’t fall victim to the unrealistic expectations of others. Many times, we allow other people’s real or imagined expectations confine our creativity or efforts to keep things manageable. (“My mother in law would die if we ate Christmas dinner off of paper plates”) Don’t feel obligated to carry on a tradition that doesn’t fit with your lifestyle or wishes. (Tree cutting day trip to Flagstaff). Don’t be afraid to say no to the multitudes of demands placed on your schedule during the holidays. Realistically evaluate your availability and energy level and make wise choices and commitments. Busyness can undermine the essence of a celebration by keeping us from enjoying each other and focusing on the object of celebration. Don’t be afraid to start your own traditions.

What kind of experience have you had at being pro-active to keep other’s expectations from stealing the joy of the season?

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