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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Destressing Christmas, Part I, 2009 - Thinking Through Your Expectations

We unpacked a few more boxes yesterday and are feeling a little more settled. But we still have no phones, including my business phone which now has a recording that says that the number is disconnected!! Ugh!

But let's think about Christmas, shall we? I'm updating a series I did last year:

Christmas already? Did you know that it is 85 days until Christmas? If we really want to destress Christmas, it might be wise to start thinking about it now.

Last year I did a series on Destressing Christmas. I think I'll repeat one part of the series each week just to help us get started. Here's the first one: Thinking Through Your Expectations

As you anticipate the holidays, think through your expectations. Talk with your family members or those with whom you will be spending the holiday season. Ask what is important to them to celebrate at Christmas - activities, traditions, food, spiritual emphasis, giving, service opportunities, etc. This is the time to determine what is important to emphasize.

- Make a list of all your traditions, from decorating to Christmas caroling. Keep the ones you love (forget about impressing other people), and cross off the ones you don't. Without realizing it, I tend to feel a need to incorporate all we had ever done, which becomes unwieldy, and it's rediculous if no one wants to do it!

- Be flexible when things don't fit your expectations. Christmas Day doesn't have to happen on December 25th, for example. When we lived in Kenya, we worked with an expatriot medical team who gave their staff Christmas Day off. So we celebrated Christmas as a team on other days.

We were hoping to have our family with us for Christmas this year, but with our new position, we need to be with our foster children for Christmas, and our own children are not allowed to stay in our house when we have kids.

And because our position is so new, we don't know when we'll be off. So we decided to postpone our family time to another less stressful time! Disappointing, but realistic.

- Enjoy the moment rather than compare it to memories or expectations. Be present and relish what is happening. And if it's not the greatest, do what you can to make it pleasant. Be other-centered rather than self-centered.

- Keep a sense of humor. I like things to match and I appreciate beauty. However, my son-in-law secretly placed a very ugly decoration on the tree one year. I did manage to resist my urge to snatch it off the tree, and we left it on the tree for giggles. It has now become a tradition.

- Be realistic!!! Know what you can handle and what you cannot. Be kind to yourself and live within your limits. Each year is different. One year we were moving right after Christmas and our holiday preparations for that year were very few.

Other years I had themes - stars, hearts, trees, etc. But after a few years, the number of decorations were getting out of hand, so I stopped that tradition. Don't hesitate to limit activities so you can enjoy the season!!

Be intentional about Christmas this year by thinking through expectations of your own and those of your family members and friends. Give yourself permission to make your Christmas celebration personal, meaningful, and realistic.

What makes your Christmas meaningful? Subscribers, click on the title to comment at the end of the blog.

More on Christmas:
Get Started on Your Christmas Cards