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Monday, September 24, 2012

Destressing Christmas - Planning an Intentional Christmas

Christmas is 101 days away - over three months, but it will be here before we know it! Why not be intentional about how you will spend the holidays? The result: you will be less likely to be over-committed or blindsided by the unexpected.
As your 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. From your discussions, determine what is important to emphasize.  

We have one daughter coming from overseas for Christmas, and a new granddaughter who lives locally with our other daughter and son-in-law. So our Christmas will be very different this year, and we'll have to figure out what's important to everyone. In the same way, you'll need to assess what is important each year, as circumstances change.
Next, make a list of all your traditions, from decorating to Christmas caroling. Keep the ones you love, and cross off the ones you don't. I have a tendency to feel I needed to incorporate all we had ever done, but it's ridiculous if no one wants to do it! And it gets to be cumbersome.

Be flexible when things don't fit with your expectations. Christmas Day doesn't have to happen on December 25th. When we lived in Kenya, we worked with an expatriot medical team who usually gave their staff Christmas Day off. So we celebrated Christmas as a team on other days. With in-laws to consider, we try to be flexible to balance holiday calendars. And now that we have grown children, we must consider their family plans as well.

As you go through your holiday celebrations, 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 instead of self-centered.

Keep a sense of humor. I like things to match and I appreciate beauty. However, my son-in-law insisted on placing 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. Each year is different. One year we were moving right after Christmas and our holiday traditions were very few. Other years I decided to have a theme - starts, 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!! Make holidays fit with your priorities. 

Most of all, celebrate the season! Make sure it is meaningful to you, as you are intentional about what to include and exclude in your celebration.

More on having an intentional Christmas:

Savoring the Significance of the Season

Juggling Priorities During the Holidays