Christmas Pressure

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 NASB

 

Ugh! It’s that time of year again… Oh no, I’m not ready for Christmas… I can’t believe it’s Christmas already… I’m still paying off credit cards from last Christmas… I just can’t seem to get into the Christmas spirit… I’m broke; I can’t afford to do Christmas this year. I’ve heard all of these comments and more over the last couple of weeks. I’m sure you have, too.

Unfortunately, celebrating the birth of our Savior for some has become nothing more than drudgery and something to get through. How many times have you heard someone say at the end of December, “I’m so glad Christmas is over”? So sad, yet a reality for many.

I suppose we may feel relieved when it’s over because of the pressure to do Christmas. We must decorate…we must buy gifts…we must make a huge, expensive meal… we must be joyful, even when the pressures are just too much. Ugh!

May I suggest we take a break from all of the “musts”? May I suggest we do not place as much emphasis on the negative traditions of Christmas, and start over in celebrating in a way that truly honors the Birthday Boy?

Christmas Decorating

My husband and I have decided to simplify and enjoy decorating for Christmas rather than go overboard and feel overwhelmed by it. Just that decision alone made us both feel more relaxed. We love Christmas, complete with all the decorations, but the thought of taking it all down after Christmas is what makes it drudgery. If we don’t go to the extreme and put up too much, we will enjoy it so much more. Ah…

Holiday Meals

Rather than make a huge expensive meal, we started something new last year. Since differing schedules make it difficult to actually celebrate Christmas on Christmas day or even Christmas Eve, we find a day that fits everyone’s schedule and enjoy simple appetizers and treats. If each person brings something simple to share, then the meal is less hectic and much more enjoyable for all. Fellowship and gift giving are much more enjoyable, too, because there is less stress in preparing and cleaning up after a large meal.

Gifts & Presents

The older I get, the more I ponder the idea of gift giving at Christmas. Please don’t get me wrong; I appreciate receiving gifts and love giving gifts to others, but I don’t ever want to get so caught up in the giving and receiving of gifts that I lose sight of the ultimate gift we are supposed to be celebrating. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

World Vision

What are some ways we can make the giving of gifts more enjoyable, and more God honoring? The website www.worldvision.org is a good place to start. We have the opportunity to purchase things like chickens, goats, and other livestock in the name of someone else. The person whose name you give in honor of receives a note of appreciation from World Vision, which also lets them know you have purchased said gift in their name. The money you spend purchasing livestock is a gift for generations to come. When we give a gift of a goat, the family has milk everyday! When we give a gift of chickens, the family has fresh eggs everyday! I’ll stop short here of telling the whole incredible story of how our small and simple gift ripples in blessing over and over again, but I encourage you to visit the World Vision website to learn more. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Gift of Words

Can’t afford to give gifts this year? No shame in that. Most, if not all, have been in that place at least once and more than likely many times in our lives. One of my favorite things to receive at Christmas (or any time really) is something written to me by the ones I love. It costs next to nothing, but has a lasting impact. The gift of words, especially words of love and affirmation are precious. Put them in writing and you have a gift that will last forever. Wouldn’t your friends and family love to know how you truly feel about them? Let’s say your family does not have enough funds for Christmas gifts this year. What if each of you wrote letters of appreciation to one another and read them aloud on Christmas morning? Sounds like a great tradition to start, whether there are store bought gifts or not. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Goody Baskets

Another favorite gift is the gift of goodies. How about baking some of your favorite cookies and create cookie gift baskets for those you still want to give a gift to? When my son was young and I could not afford much, we would bake several types of cookies and wrap them in a paper plate with colored saran wrap. Inexpensive, but yummy! Each person we gave the cookies to truly seemed happy to receive them. As an added bonus, many said it took the pressure off of having to bake for their families. Yay!

Since most of us have enough doo-dads and trinkets to dust already and probably enough sweaters and socks, I’m thinking a basket of goodies or a handwritten note of prayer or encouragement will be a welcome departure from the norm.

Sharing Christ’s Love

I believe with all my heart that Jesus feels celebrated when we show Christian love to those less fortunate than we are. “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” Matthew 25:40.

Whether giving to a homeless shelter, donating to World Vision or other such organizations, or buying gifts for the Angel Tree program at church, we can know we are showing Christ’s love and saying happy birthday to Jesus when we give to and serve others.

Merry Christmas!

Toni

Father God, thank You for the gift of Your Son and for the opportunity to tell Him happy birthday by showing love and compassion to others. I ask, dear Lord, for all of us to be able to celebrate this Christmas with a fresh perspective and less pressure to do Christmas, but to experience Christmas afresh as a true celebration of the birth of our Savior. In the matchless name of Jesus, amen.

Happy birthday, Jesus! I love you!

4 comments to Christmas Pressure

  • Sheila  says:

    Toni~ Some really great advice! Another idea I have done in the past are making coupon books that are filled with ideas such as : Good for one loaf of homemade bread, a car wash, etc. and basically, any task I knew my family didn’t enjoy or would enjoy. It was a big hit and everyone loved turning their coupons in and it lasted throughout the year. One of my most memorable was when my grandmothers were alive and I gave them each coupons for an afternoon of grandma time to do anything they wanted to do. I think I was more blessed than they were. Thank You for the reminders of keeping the important things important!

    Love you..
    Sheila

    • Toni  says:

      Great idea Sheila!! Just remember to put an expiration date on those coupons or someone will come back with those unused coupons years later trying to collect. ☺
      Just a few years ago my son tried to collect on a coupon I had given him when he was a child. Hilarious!!

      Merry Christmas Sheila!

      Love you too!!

  • Nancy Yoshida  says:

    Toni,
    Thanks for another great article. I am going to ask my family to give each other the gift of words and when we are all together we will read them out loud. What a wonderful and special way to share love on Christmas Day.
    I am going to start by telling you how much I love you and appreciate all you have done to encourage me and start me on a path that really changed the whole course of my life. You are my angel on earth, my sister in Christ, my dear dear friend. You are unselfish in your words of praise, the light of God shines through your eyes. You are one of the most beautiful women I have been lucky enough to meet in this lifetime. I know God is crazy about you and so am I.
    Merry Christmas my special friend.

    • Toni  says:

      I love you so much Nancy! You have always had the ability to make me feel special and loved. Many years ago you wrote me an e-mail shortly after your baptism that was filled with much love and encouragement for the role the Lord had put me in for your life. I have kept that e-mail all these years and read it now and again especially when I need a little encouragement. Your words of love and appreciation have and always will be one of the reasons I keep seeking to do and be better as we strive together to be the hands and feet of God. You are truly one of the sweetest women I have ever met and I am honored to call you my Sister in Christ and treasured friend. Though I am very happy with my life here in Indiana, you, my dear friend, are one of the treasures I miss so very much from my life in Las Vegas. Watching you grow in your precious relationship with our Savior has been one of the greatest joys in my life. You are truly a woman of faith and I know God is crazy about you too! Merry Christmas sweet friend. I love you!

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