Friday, December 2, 2011

Don’t Hate Christmas!

 

Part of the CW Blogchain. Check out the sidebar for other great posts from the wonderful writers in our chain.

Gifts from the heart come from a loving spirit. But how do we maintain a loving spirit during the stressful holiday seasons?

MM900288888[1]Many people hate this time of year, some because memories of departed loved ones are especially poignant, some because of the commercialization of the season, and some because of the extra workload Christmas brings with it. While some of us may not hate Christmas, and some actually love this time of year, it is true many of us are more stressed. Let’s examine six things we can do to help us, even those who love Christmas, enjoy it more.

  1. Sad memories make this time of year difficult for many. The first thing many of us need to do is to accept death, not bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. Everyone is dying—we just do not know the hour or day. I know it is difficult to accept death, and I’m certainly not trying to minimize the pain we feel when loved ones die. However, as Christians we have hope. In possibly the most beautiful words in the English language, Paul tells us:

    Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? I Corinthians 15:54-55

    This time of year is a perfect time to reminisce, to remember Christmases past, to honor the memories of those who have gone on to meet their reward. Will tears be shed? Perhaps, but tears are a gift from God. And everything God gives is good.

  2. Furthermore, this may be the perfect time to drag out those old pictures and share memories with the new and old members of our families. We may just find laughter intermingling with the tears. And taking time to just be with our families can give us a respite from all the hustle and bustle and renew our energy.
  3. Other people hate this time of the year because of the commercialization. For years I complained bitterly when I saw ads or commercials for Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving. Well, now we’re seeing them before Halloween. Christmas is like the Blob (if you’re as old as I am and remember the movie), sprawling to possibly encompass the entire year. We already have Christmas in July in many stores. Unless we are the business owners or unless a law is passed to prohibit anything Christmas except in the month of December (a great idea, don’t you think?), we must accept things as they are and as they may be in the future. The Serenity Prayer has helped me with this.

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.
    Amen. ~
    Reinhold Niebuhr

  4. Of course, we know we can change our own focus. Instead of the take attitude, have a give attitude. Reach out to those in need at this time of year. Open our hearts and pocketbooks to the poor of this world—whether poor in money, or poor in family or friends. We may not be able to change the world, but we are capable of changing self.
  5. Also, we need to let go of unrealistic expectations. In some distant galaxy far, far away, there may be the “perfect” Christmas, with smiling children eagerly sharing, with a perfectly cooked Christmas dinner, with gifts elegantly wrapped, and each gift just what the other person wanted. I haven’t seen it here on earth. Here we are imperfect people going through trials and tribulations, learning to be more Christlike, yet failing more often than succeeding. We need to change our perspective and see each challenge as a way God is molding us into who he wants us to be. We need to change our perspective and see others as God sees them and not place unrealistic expectations on them.
  6. And when we fail those challenges, forgive ourselves and others, just as thoroughly as he forgives us. Enjoying the good, forgetting the bad.

Learning to accept death, not being afraid to reminisce about those who have gone on before, to accept the commercialization of Christmas we have no control over, to change ourselves by focusing on those in need, to let go of unrealistic expectations, and to forgive ourselves and others when we fail our goal of a perfect Christmas are six ways to create gifts from the heart and a more peaceful and joyous Christmas.  

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24 comments:

  1. It was worth waiting for! What a great post. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. It's true, the first Christmas after death of a loved one feels especially devastating, and I don't know one person who has not experienced it at some point in their lives. The 1 Corinthians Scripture is be especially important to remember during these time.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2012.

    ~ VT

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  3. Excellent post, Sheila. Thanks for printing the whole Serenity Prayer; most of the time we just see the first few lines, and the second part - the explicitly Christian part - gets edited out.

    I love Christmas, and as a crafter I understand why certain parts of the retail world start hyping it in late summer; people who make things by hand need the lead time to plan and start working on projects. The "Christmas in July" sales? I could do without those.

    By the way, if you want a bit of Christmas cheer, I'm posting a Christmas poem each day on my poemflow blog at http://poemflow.wordpress.com.

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  4. Thanks for posting this.
    We've just come home exhausted having hosted a 'kids bazaar' at church - where parents are banned so kids can buy presents for their family (and get them wrapped) at 'pocket money' prices (the stuff has all been collected and donated by church folk - unwanted gifts etc). Recycling at its best ! All the proceeds go to the local children's hospice - so every one gains.

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  5. Shiela, you hit the nail on the head! Yes, this season tends to be less joy and more dread with all the past and present issues, but remembering the reason for the season refocuses our attention from ourselves and on the One we celebrate. I love your tips and wisdom. Thank you!

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  6. Thanks, guys! Appreciate all the great comments!

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  7. Yes, it is true that while many are basking in the 'warm feelings' there are others who find this time of year very painful. Either way, its important to keep in mind the reason for the season

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  8. I loved the Title: Don't Hate Christmas! It can get stressful very quickly.

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  9. For many folks, the Serenity prayer doesn't help . . . but that's often because they have their own version of it: Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can . . . annnnd a 60-inch high definition TV for the man cave. That's the modern Christmas spirit for you.

    I also can relate to what you said about the inherent sadness many experience during the holidays. In a blog entry back in October, I mentioned a friend I lost on December 23 last year. I'm very aware of the imminent approach of the first anniversary (as is his wife). It won't be easy . . . and yet, as you said, it's important to remember and move on.

    Great post this month, Shelia.

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  10. Great post, both for people who hate it and for those of us who are merely stressed by it.

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  11. Oh, Scott, a death coming that close to Christmas is tough. Saying a little prayer for you and your friend's family.

    Thanks, Tracy, Mike, and Samuel for the read. Appreciate it!

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  12. I always enjoy my visits to your blog. Your post is a wonderful reminder of many things.

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  13. excellent advice on focusing on the positive, thank you Sheila!!

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  14. Oh man I have such a hard time with the commercial part of Christmas. It SO gets on my nerves! lol, I will DEFINITELY keep the serenity prayer in mind. Also wanted to share that what gets on my nerves is the Merry X-Mas, Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings and NO Merry Christmas! ugghh!!!!! God grant me the Serenity....

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  15. Hey, Debra, Chris, & Suzette! Thanks so much for your kind comments.

    I think I'll print out a copy of the serenity prayer and start reciting it 3 times a day. Definitely need it!

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  16. This is something that so many people deal with but most ignore. Thank you for your willingness to write about it. My dad passed away ten years ago, a week before Christmas. That first Christmas was very tough. The following year, we remembered him with special ornaments. Since then, however, I kind of bury my head in the sand and simply don't think about it. You've got some excellent suggestions in this article. I need to reread it--maybe print it out--and pray about a better way of dealing with the issue.

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  17. Suzanne, you brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for stopping by!

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  18. I always have a hard time with stores playing tinny Christmas music. In my house, it's ok. But in the stores it feels manipulative. On the other hand, if they're playing the classics, it's probably some of the only God-focused music they'll hear all year :/

    I'm sorry for the losses some of you have had during Christmas.

    May you have peace this season, in Him.
    Keri Mae

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  19. Keri Mae,

    Peace to you also.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  20. It always makes my heart break for those who suffer from loss or bad memories at Christmas. It should be a joyous season. Such a great post, Sheila. Thank you!

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  21. Sheila, thank you. A dear, sweet friend just lost her husband four weeks ago to sudden cardiac death at only 56 (same cause as my brother's death at 32). As we sit together in the evenings, figuring out and working through the details of her new journey alone, we both realize what an incredible blessing it is to have the inexplicable Hope of eternity. We talk often about what her husband and my brother are experiencing and how we long to join them, understanding ever deeper, Paul's words, "to live is Christ and to die is gain."

    When we turn our eyes and hearts and minds to Jesus -- seeking Him in every moment, every breath, the other things begin to gently melt away.

    Merry Christmas, Sheila!

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  22. Just so you know, I remember The Blob. ;-)

    Great post!

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  23. Thanks, Lynn and Cindee.

    It is so hard to lose a loved one during the holiday season. I'm sorry for your friend's loss, Cindee. And what a heartache for your brother to die so young. Praying!

    Merry Christmas, Lynn & Cindee!

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  24. Deborah, glad I'm not the only one. Merry Christmas!

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Thanks for sitting a spell and chatting!