Decking the Halls Without Decking Your Family
The Christmas season is supposed to be about family, cherishing loved ones, and celebrating Jesus, the Light of the World coming to dwell among men and offering us hope. But does it ever feel like it’s more about decorating, getting all that gift shopping done, and “just give me some peace on earth, puh-leazze!”? Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck on a treadmill and left my Peace on Earth in the attic.
It’s a conundrum in many senses. We should slow down to enjoy, but how can we when there are so many people to appreciate? Teachers, loved ones, outreach programs, spouses, and the list goes on. If we miss someone, the fear is we’re somehow letting the world down and not embodying the Christmas spirit. If we don’t do it all, someone might slap a “Kick me, I’m Scrooge” sign on our backs. And if one more person tears the angels off the tree, “The Night Before Christmas” poem is going to resemble “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” rhyme.
So, how do we keep our halls decked without, a-hem, decking someone else’s lights out when tensions get high?
Unfortunately, there’s no Peace on Earth supplement or essential oil treatment, but we can make some steps to ease the holiday tidal wave of tension.
1. Keep it simple.
We’ve all heard this one, and trust me, it’s not always easy. The years I’ve kept my gift giving simple, I’ve wound up feeling bad because my gift didn’t measure up to someone else’s. Sometimes I talk myself out of giving at all because I worry my gift of a small cake or handmade sugar scrub isn’t enough. But that isn’t the point, is it? Being better than others or giving the most spectacular gift ever isn’t what I should focus on. It’s about remembering a person and giving to others because we were given the best gift of all. So, I have come to see how simple giving is wonderful.
Same goes for decorating. There’s nothing wrong with decorating the house. It’s fun and pretty, but when it comes at the expense of others or the family budget it could be a problem. Since we have a child with autism, I had to scale back my decorating, especially in the early years. She took all the ornaments off the tree and stashed them all over the house … hourly. Things got broken. Tensions got high. So, I got smarter.
What does it matter if only the top three branches of my tree are decorated? I don’t have to be picture perfect. I don’t have to have all my decorations out every year, either. At this point, I do what I can and let the rest go. We decorate as a family and if 10 ornaments get smashed on one branch together while the rest of the tree goes naked, who cares? Does it ruin Christmas? No. In fact, those are the memories I cherish.
2. Give yourself the gift of grace.
Some years we might have it all together, but other years we can’t find the kitchen sink. That’s okay. If this is your year to be lucky to match your socks, do what you can and let the rest go. Enlist family members to help. We don’t have to have TV-worthy trees and professionally wrapped presents. Nor do we have to have expensive presents that break our wallets and exhaust us. That’s not what the season is really about.
3. Remember the relationship.
I recently got irritated with something my daughter did. I can’t remember what it was, but I do remember that snappy, yappy feeling rising in the back of my throat. I wanted to bite back, but then I had a flash of who she was to me, probably a prompting of the Holy Spirit. This was my precious child. That short moment of remembrance helped me reign in my attitude. The holiday season is about cherishing relationships, so a little overlooking and a lot less perfectionism can help bring Peace on Earth to our lives.
4. Boundaries, budgets, and Bethlehem.
Over the last few years I’ve been learning more about boundaries. Just as we have budgets for our money, we should have boundaries with our time. We can’t please everyone, but we can strive to please God. We can’t be all things to all people, but we can pray about what God has set before us each day. Christmas parties, programs and outings are fun, but none of us can do everything. We have to choose things, sometimes between several good things. And the real reason for this season is about what took place in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago where a tiny baby in a manger changed everything and brought light into the world. If the only thing we accomplish this season is helping our families remember the hope of Jesus, then we have done well.
And be sure to Ditch the Holiday Diva.