Oh, joy. The season of extra is upon us: extra cooking, eating, shopping, spending, going, doing, giving, receiving, planning, preparing, etc.
Is it possible to not only survive but thrive? To enjoy the coming days and weeks without feeling overwhelmed?
Check out a few simple ways to maximize joy and reduce stress over the holidays:
- Refuse to have picture-perfect expectations and shift focus to life and love.
If our day is fashioned after a magazine spread, we’re setting ourselves up for stress and disappointment. The turkey might be dry. The children will make a mess. Great Uncle Harold will bring up politics.
Better to have paper plates with love than gold charger plates with much strife.
So think and speak life. Praise. Love. It tends to put various situations, messes, opinions, and views into perspective. And I’ve heard it helps digestion.
…give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
· 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ·
- Be a giver.
Give a celebration centered on Jesus.
Give attention. Eye contact. A smile. A hug. A sincere compliment. Watch someone’s eyes light up with the interaction.
Praise God for the moment. The blessing will return a hundredfold.
And above all these put on love, which binds
everything together in perfect harmony
· Colossians 3:14 ·
- Maintain heart-contact with the Anchor of your soul.
The coming weeks will be a whirlwind of school plays, office parties, dinners, extended family, extra shopping, travel, and more. Staying rooted and grounded in the strength of our Creator will be our lifeline.
Our schedules will be a swirl of chaos, and we may be tempted to short-change our time with God.
But that’s like leaving our protective armor at home by the front door. If we’re not anchored with the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be overcome by anxiousness and exhaustion.
Time with our Lord also helps us prioritize the zillions of activities demanding our attention. And gives us the wisdom to say, “no.”
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
· Isaiah 26:3 ·
- Listen and remember.
Are certain relatives getting a tad long-winded? Listen carefully—this is good stuff. Those “good ole days” were packed with real people living real lives. They have treasures worth mining.
Go a little crazy and ask those gathered to share their earliest Thanksgiving or Christmas memories. What about grandpa and grandma’s first holiday as a married couple?
Reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness over the generations brings hope and promise for tomorrow.
Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
· James 1:17 ·
- Dress appropriately.
We just feel better when we wear comfortable clothing. This holiday season make sure to grab a “garment of praise.” Always in style, we’ll be sure to turn heads and bring a smile to those around us.
In years to come, no one will remember that outfit we paid too much for or the fancy, glittering table we slaved over. They will remember kindness. Compassion. Love. Laughter. Memories made and shared.
They will cherish authentic moments engraved on hungry hearts—made possible by a Heavenly Father with an endless storehouse of life, love, and peace.
…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
· Isaiah 61:3 ·
How do you keep Jesus the center of your celebrations? We’d love to hear your ideas!