Ho Ho Ho. Stress is on the Way

The Christmas Season has officially kicked off.  All the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. Names have been pulled for gift giving. For some, decorations are up. For others, the boxes of decorations are at least out of the closet. What next? Stress.
Admit it. You are already starting to feel the stress. The resolution to not get stressed out this year is already faded. The idea that you will have a simple, Christ centered Christmas this year…already forgotten. It’s not to late to have a stress free Christmas. 
Here are some ideas:
Pray – When  you start to feel that stress rise within, pray. Start each day asking God to tell you what to do today. Ask Him for His priority for your day. All that needs to get done, will get done. It may not be that you will do more, you just might realize that there is a lot less that really NEEDS to be done.
Schedule – Before you rush off shopping stop and make a schedule. List the things you want to accomplish this holiday season. It can include a list of gifts you have to buy or at least persons you have to buy for, but also include fun holiday things you always say you are going to do this year but never seem to get around to doing. Do like Santa. Make a list and check it twice. Instead of sending obligatory Christmas cards, maybe just call or drop by and say hello to someone you haven’t see all year. Doing more for a few is better than just “sending a card” to a bunch.
Exercise. I know this sounds strange coming from me, but since my knee surgery I have gotten into the habit of exercising several days a week. I was too “busy” for Thanksgiving week and I notice the difference. Exercise is more stress relieving than it is tiring. Trust me. It’s true. Plus you’ll be in better shape for all that holiday eating.
Just say “no.” There are many “demands” screaming at us during the holidays. We have to learn we can’t do everything. Go back to number 1 on the list, pray. Have God help you to know what to say “no” to. Be brave. The ones you have to say “no” to will still love you. May even love you more.
Address issues now. If there are conflicts or problems, address them now. The classic one is if you feel you have more than one obligation for Christmas dinner or Christmas eve. Make a decision and announce what you’re doing. Don’t keep others hanging on. It just increases their stress. Deep down everyone knows you can’t be in two places at once. Make a decision and be fair and move on. One of the great things we’ve done with my family is to have a gathering on Christmas Eve Eve. That’s the 23rd. Everyone gets to see everyone and their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day time is freed up. Be flexible. 
Ask for help. If you are the type A personality in your house. Get over yourself. I know you think you do everything better than anyone else, but give everyone else a chance. They may surprise you and if they blow it, so what? They will just be thinking how much better it was when you did it.
Remember He’s the reason for the season. He can help you make it everything He wants it to be. Forget making it everything you want it to be. You will never create the perfect Christmas. If you did, what would you do next year? If you just bless one person, and do it without stress, it will be all worthwhile.
Relax and be blessed.

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