This one is for anyone who ever sets Clark Griswold-sized expectations during the holiday season (or any time of year, for that matter). The goal for today’s blog post is to come up with strategies to lower expectations, and get us back to the real reason for the season.
#1 – Who Cares If The Lights Twinkle?
Sometimes, our crazy holiday stress stems from the expectations of the people around us. We’re so focused on whether or not we’ll give the right gift, have enough Pinterest-inspired decorations, or if the floorboards will be dust-free. Or maybe, if you’re like me, you’ve even planned out your responses to the questions and/or comments you have to endure about where you’re life is or isn’t at. The point is, we all need to pause, and remember:
- If someone doesn’t like the gift you got them, your life (and their life) will go on.
- If someone doesn’t think your decorations are cute and clever enough, your life (and their life) will go on.
- If someone comments on the dust particle on your floorboard, your life (and their life) will go on.
- If someone asks you why you still aren’t married, and you decide to change the subject instead of giving your planned reply, your life (and their life) will go on.
So when you’re ready to allow the expectations of others stress you out to the point of tears, just remember… WHO CARES?!
#2 – Give What You Can, and That’s All You can Do!
When I make my shopping list, my anxiety starts to skyrocket. As I’m writing down the gifts I’ll buy for my nephews, parents, siblings, friends etc., I start to think of the “what if” people. ”
- “What if they get me something, and I’m empty handed?!”
- “I think they got me something last year, so what if they do again?!”
- “I bought gifts for my coworkers last year, so what if they think I’ll do it every year!”
The truth is, no one really cares what you get them (unless maybe your gift is paying their bills). People are just happy to be spending time together and enjoying each other’s company. If someone gets upset because you didn’t spend enough money or whatever the case may be, there’s probably a lot more going on in that person’s heart than a nice gift can fix.
I love giving gifts, but I also love overdoing things, so this time of year can be financially stressful because of that. So just remember…
Do what you can, and that’s all you can do!
#3 – It’s Okay to Say No!
If plans from the holiday season, start to overwhelm you, just remember it’s okay to say no. In fact, it’s better to say no than to show up somewhere visibly stressed out. If you’re anything like me, people can read when you don’t really want to be somewhere, and that’s way more offensive than saying no in the first place.
So just remember… no one will die because you didn’t attend their get-together. If you can’t make it, just say you can’t make it. You don’t need to make up an excuse. I’m sure they’ll miss you, but there’s even a slight chance that they’ll be a little bit relieved because that’s one less person to buy food and/or gifts for.
#4 – It’s Not All Part of the Experience…
Unfortunately, we’ve turned Christmas into a season of parties, empty bank accounts, awkward family photos, and sending cards to tell everyone all the great stuff we did over the course of a year, that we forgot the true meaning of Christmas. We are celebrating Christmas to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. Somehow, we’ve turned it into something that it isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the crazy person that has their decorations up and lit on November 1st. I love this time of year, and I’m the first person to stress about the things that don’t matter.
I don’t want to continue to allow these things to distract me from what Christmas is truly about. So, when the anxieties of the season are peaking, and we’re ready to scream and/or cry, just pause and dwell on the fact that this is about the birth of our savior and nothing else really matters.
Here are some verses to put up around the house as reminders:
- Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- 2 Corinthians 9:15 – Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
- Matthew 1:21 – She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.
- Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.
- John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
- 1 John 5:11 – And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
- Galatians 4:4-5 – But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
There are 19 days until Christmas – 19 days to turn Christmas misery into Christmas joy! If you have any other strategies, feel free to drop a note in the comments!