Commercials blast their way during television shows and my daughter immediately yells, “I want that!” We go to the store and she starts adding to the ever-growing Christmas list. Stores blare out carols and songs over the PA system and families are pulled here and there trying to keep up with the social aspects of the Christmas holiday.
What is a family to do to cultivate a Christmas that’s not overwhelmingly stressful and is Christ-honoring? We must be intentional in our celebration and worship of the Christ-Child.
My family, like many others, is pulled in several directions during December. Parties, get-togethers, Sunday School fellowships — it’s never-ending! Wanting to avoid the burnout from distractions, we do one special thing each weekend — not something special every night of the weekend, but actually one thing–either a social gathering or a family outing. With work and school schedules, we leave the weeknights free, opting to avoid extracurricular activities.
Since this past year has been a difficult one, we decided not to travel. Choosing activities with our family dynamics and stress levels in mind helps minimize the chaos around the holidays. Examine your own family’s stress level and don’t be afraid to say no to long trips or traveling to visit family. I understand it can be difficult, but your family and friends will understand.
Several months ago, we decided to put a price limit on gifts for extended family, and a maximum number of presents for our immediate family (mom, dad, kids). Some parents give something to wear, something a child wants, something a child needs, and something to read. Others, like myself, give three presents, which represent the number of gifts the wise men gave Baby Jesus. Whatever you decide, a set limit helps curb excessive spending.
When being mindful of your budget, shopping craft fairs and local establishments help to support small companies in the community; shopping online minimizes the craziness of shopping. Either way, institute a quiet calm by making a comforting cup of hot cocoa, tea or coffee while enjoying soothing Christmas music and wrapping gifts.
Watch the Lights
Many folks comment on how Christmas lights evoke a peaceful, calm, and quiet atmosphere. Turn off the lamps and watch the twinkling lights of your Christmas tree while you sip a hot drink, curled up in blankets with your family, sharing stories of Christmases past. Share the story of Christ’s birth by either reading it aloud or do some narrative work with your children by either retelling it as a story or have them narrate it back to you. Don’t forget to turn off the television and make cookies and other goodies as a family. Unable to decorate your own home or can’t get enough Christmas lights? Take a drive around your town and see how others are celebrating the season.
If you focus on the quiet, non-stressful activities as a family, it will be less crazy — and will intentionally cultivate an attitude and environment in which you can talk about the birth of Jesus.
Do you have a tip to help cultivate a peaceful Christmas season? I’d love to read it.
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