De-Stressing Christmas 3What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear “Christmas?” Is it “worship,” “family time,” “rest and reflection?” Or is it cooking, shopping, busyness and exhaustion?

Our culture has perpetuated a “Christmas” that pushes us to do more, spend more, eat more, and say “yes” to everything. We are often relieved when December 26th hits and the frantic activity finally ends.

That is NOT how it has to be. This post is the third in a series to help us take some of the stress out of Christmas. In the first post, I encouraged you to ASK yourself and your family what traditions and activities are most important in order to determine what you can cut right at the start.

In the second post, we made a complete list of everything you do during the Christmas season and EVALUATED those things with the following questions:

• What activities consume the most of your time and resources?
• What activities do you dread? Are these activities necessary?
• Does the item help you or your family worship our Savior?
• Does it put people over things?
• Does it focus on spiritual things instead of physical things?
• Does it further things that last or things that are temporary?

Now that you’ve asked and evaluated, it’s time to follow through and actually eliminate some activities and cut back on others. I’m not saying we should cut out every fun activity if it doesn’t meet the criteria above. But we can find a balance that leaves plenty of room for Jesus and family.

The first things I eliminated were things we dreaded. It was so freeing! Really, it started with my husband. He always dreaded hanging lights on the house. And I dreaded pushing him to do it. One year he simply said he didn’t like it, he didn’t have time to do it, so he wasn’t going to do it. And that was that.

The neighbors didn’t start a petition. No one egged the house. We just didn’t have lights. We may hire it done some year in the future. Or my husband may do it himself after he retires. But it’s okay to just say no.

Even changing the way you do some activities can help. Don’t want to make homemade cookies for the cookie exchange? Then don’t go or buy 6 dozen from a local bakery. Totally hate decorating the tree? Then don’t do it! Or buy one with the built-in lights, set it up, plug it in and call it done!

Look at it this way, even buying a prepared pie crust or cookie dough in a tub redeems time you can use to play games with the family or read the story of the first Christmas in a recliner by the fireplace.

Now it’s time for the elimination challenge. First, set a goal, such as cutting your list by a third or even half. Now work your way through these steps:

  1. Pull out the list you made last week. (If you missed it, you can do it now.)
  2. Put a check mark by the chores and activities you dread.
  3. If they’re beneficial to someone in a meaningful way, mark them off your list.
  4. Put a star by the chores or activities you can simplify, like buying cookie dough in a tub.
  5. Now alter that item on the list to the simplified version.
  6. Put a hashtag by any chores or activities that you don’t necessarily dread but that consume a lot of time.
  7. If you enjoy then and would miss them, leave them on your list. But if you really don’t care either way, mark them off!

Congratulations! You have just taken a bold step to cut back on the busyness of the season and redeem that time for your family, for time with Jesus. How do you feel???

I’d love to know what steps you’ve taken to de-stress your Christmas! Will you share?

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