For several days I have been thinking about this post. I realize that some will not like it. Some may think I lack understanding or compassion. That’s okay. The purpose of my writing has never been to gain public approval but to share my experience, heart and truth as I see it.
Every year at this time I listen to so many share about the stress they are under. Instead of “tis the season to be jolly” I hear folks grumble and complain about many things. When I ask for clarification of the stress this is what I hear most often…
· “I have so much shopping to do” Have you considered shopping online? Most stores offer good sales and free shipping. You can do all of your shopping in one evening. Have you considered giving less gifts? What about giving to a needy charity in the recipient’s name? What about planning ahead? Consider shopping months in advance and then putting it in a closet. I had 90% of my shopping done by November 27th.
· “I have so many parties to attend.” I love parties. But if parties are stressing you out don’t go. Is anyone holding a gun to your head threatening to shoot if your absent? Will the party cancel if you’re not there? Could you go for just one hour?
· “More school activities.” Okay. You can’t cancel these but I will suggest that you enjoy them. Christmas with your children is a short amount of time in your life. While you complain about it now one day it will probably be looked on as one of the greatest highlights in your life. Just sayin.
· “More church activities.” You don’t have to sign up for everything or attend everything. Remember that these are also great opportunities for building memories with your family.
· “The cooking.” I enjoy all the holiday cooking but realize that some of you don’t. I saw “The Blind Side” recently and loved the part where the father told the kids to thank their mom for purchasing the Thanksgiving dinner! Laughed at loud at that one. Buy it or make it simple. I know one family that has taco salad every Christmas Eve. Todd’s grandmother used to make at least 20 different types of Christmas cookies every single year until the day she died at 88. Her secret? Baking and freezing.
· “The Christmas cards.” P-L-E-A-S-E. Who says you have to mail out cards? Consider doing it online. Do it every other year or don’t do it at all. Consider a January Happy New Year card.
“I’m broke and don’t have any money to spend.” Everyone knows we are in a recession. Do you have to give gifts? If you have young children that is a different story but we have been in that situation as people in full time ministry living on a tight budget. I remember one year that Todd took a part time job at Costco to earn money for gifts for the boys. It was tough. It was humbling for a college graduate to push carts in the cold and rain with teenagers but he was grateful for the job and saw it is God’s provision. It amazes me to hear unemployed folks say they would never do a particular job because they think it is beneaththem. I once heard a girl say she would NEVER hostess or waitress. People like that have much to learn about life. I have the highest respect for a friend, Darica Smith, who rented a home with me in San Diego. She is very intelligent, graduate of UCSD and working on her masters degree at the time she got engaged. She worked full time at the VA and made the decision to get a 2nd job at McDonalds to pay off some debt and save some money for her wedding expenses. I have never forgotten that and have told the story to my kids. I know folks today that need income that would never even consider that.
I don’t want to close without sharing some holiday stress that does grieve and touch my heart deeply…
· A family that lost their home with no place to go due to unemployment.
· A missionary family that is struggling due to lack of financial support.
· The McRaefamily in Phoenix who is in the hospital with their 5 year old, Kate, undergoing chemo due to brain cancer.
· The family who is grieving the loss of a loved one this Christmas.
· The mother who is fighting cancer so that she can be around for her children.
· The parent’s with the rebellious child who is wondering if they will be spending Christmas together.
· The man who just found out his wife is having an adulterous affair.
· The children who were told their parents are getting a divorce.
· The woman struggling with depression
- The family with a son incarcerated.
- The person struggling with addiction.
Have you listened to folks talk about holiday stress this year? What would you add to this list? Do you feel stress today? Would love your thoughts.