Thanksgiving and Christmas can be overwhelming and stressful for families. The obligatory parties, pageants, recitals, food (lots of it), smells and sounds can trigger painful AND endearing memories for many. The Holiday season can invoke a concoction of feelings, to say the least.
The expectations around Thanksgiving and Christmas can feel insurmountable. Sometimes it feels like the Holiday’s are a NASCAR race; where you’re racing from one event or activity to another.Your time is not your own. Your feelings and your thoughts run rampant. Before you know it, you’ve spent more money than you planned and you’re worn out!
Thanksgiving and Christmas are Holiday’s to be filled with gratitude and love. Instead, you’re grouchy because your to-do list (shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, wrapping, repeat) is like a gluttonous, overindulged child’s Christmas list. When the Holiday obligations run life, you’re exhausted and long for sleep.
Guess what, it doesn’t have to be like this.
You can do this Holiday season differently. There is hope!
There are three empowering positions you and your family can stand from this Holiday season to make this a stress-free Season.
Position #1 Jesus is the reason for the season
Thanksgiving and Christmas are centered on the person of Jesus Christ. Both Holiday’s were born out of love. Christmas points us to the birth of baby Jesus. God loved us so much that he sent us the Liberator, Jesus Christ. God gave us the best gift ever; a gift we didn’t even know we needed.
God gave us a gift we didn’t deserve. The commercials on TV want us to believe that we have to be “good” all year-long to get the gifts we want. Thank God, He is nothing like that! God is loving and full of grace. Out of his generosity, he gives us the gift of grace; an inexhaustible supply of His goodness. We have been given more than we could ever “earn”.
The fact is we can’t do anything to earn God’s gift of grace. He gives it freely.
Let this season reflect His gift of love. Thank Him. Ask God how you can love others this Holidays season. Turn around and let Him work through you to love others.
Hundreds of years ago, Thanksgiving was celebrated from the perspective of abundance and generosity. People shared what they had with one another and expressed their gratitude for what God had given them.
Remember, the Pilgrims (100 of them) came across the ocean in a boat to a land they hoped would give them a new start. Thanksgiving, their first harvest was celebrated with the remaining 50 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans guests. Four adult Pilgrim women who survived their first winter along with young daughters and male and female servants cooked the feast.
They didn’t have double ovens, cars, cell-phones, a pantry full of food, multiple closets with more than enough clothing nor a warm, cozy home like most Americans. They had the bare minimum, yet were bursting with gratitude.
Their expression of gratitude was from within. The Pilgrims knew God provided for them. Everything they had came from God; the remaining few Pilgrims, new friends, (the Native Americans) plenty of food and a home of some kind. They knew from a place deep within their soul, God was their provider.
We CAN put our lives in perspective. We have so much more that we could ever really need. We have so much to be thankful for. When we keep our eyes on the reason for the season, Jesus Christ and his love for us, we can live with less stress.
Position #2 Be intentional with time
You and I have 24 hours in a day. No more. No less. Be purposeful in how you spend your 24 hours. Talk about what’s really, really important this Holiday season with your spouse and kids. Pray and ask God how he wants you and your family to spend time over the Holiday’s.
As you get clear about how you’re going to fill in your calendar (or not) say, “yes” only to the best. When you say “no” more often, it leaves room for the best. God’s best. This includes space for activities that reflect your values, downtime with family, a day of rest or giving back to others.
Let Thanksgiving and Christmas reveal your true God-given values. You’ll be grateful you didn’t’ let the hustle and bustle of the season keep you from what’s important.
Position #3 Give Generously
I’m not talking about the kind of giving that costs money. There are many, many other ways to give out of love during this Season.
The first step is to make a list of people or organizations you give to. My guess is that you’ll be amazed at how long your list is. Then ask yourself, “why?” Is it out of obligation or what is your reason for giving?”
This is an opportunity to pray and reassess your gift list. Maybe this will help you
- Narrow your list
- Broaden your list or
- Change what you give.
Many families overspend during Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, people overspend as much as 30-50% more than they foresee. You don’t need to be the family that spends the next 6-8 months paying off your Christmas credit card debt.
Sit down with your spouse and predetermine your gift-giving budget. Stick to it. Be accountable with one another. People who pay with cash typically spend 30% less than if they pay with plastic. Have cash on hand to pay for those gifts as it could save you a lot of money!
Get creative with your gift giving. Often times it’s not how much money you spend on a gift that matters, but the thought that went into purchasing the gift that warms the heart.
Here are a few creative gift ideas.
- Bake or personally make a gift.
- Great photos on canvas
- Second hand items that are personalized (scarf with bling, mittens with buttons)
- Pass on collectables.
- Search the web for creative gift ideas. For those that have children in your life here is a fun website that has fun and inspiring ideas. IMOM for Thanksgiving and IMOM for Christmas
As you set your heart on the person of the season, get intentional with your time and give generously, you’ll find yourself filled with gratitude, peace and a joy. May you share abundant love with your family and friends at this Holiday season.