12 Days until Christmas!
Are you feeling the peace on earth, good will to men? Singing Joy to the world? Sipping hot cocoa? Sneaking candy from your homemade gingerbread house? Sleeping and dreaming of sugar plum fairies? How about baking sugar cookies and decorating them while all of your gifts are wrapped beautifully under your tree? Have you bought the latest and greatest for your kids? Is that what is happening at your house?
A-hem. That's not what is happening at my house. Sure does sound nice though. Nothing is better than the feeling that everyone is happy and giving and there's a plethora of funds to buy everyone everything they want and we can all just sit and watch movies and sip cocoa.
I actually don't know that feeling. But I'm sure it's lovely! Truth is, for some people this time of year is magical. They long for the Christmas season. For others, this time of year can have the opposite effect. Christmas and peace could be the greatest oxymoron ever. I won't mention in which of those two categories I fall. Let's just say that this time of year brings opportunities to learn and grow. And here is what I'm learning and I hope will be helpful for you.
Christmas is like a gift itself. It's like the valuable surprise behind all the ribbons and bows. As adults we realize that gifts don't just magically appear under the tree. It takes a lot of effort to get that gift purchased (with your hard earned work and budgeting skills), hidden, wrapped and beautified before the reveal. Let's not forget the tree that someone had to put up, the stores that had to be shopped, the lines, the parking, the weather, the lights that were put up, the lists, the parties, the performances, the sugar, the deadlines, the whine of entitled kids, the decorations and the expectations and that's just in addition to your regular responsibilites.
No wonder peace and Christmas don't go together! I can see how it can get overwhelming. Who are we kidding, I KNOW how it can get overwhelming.
Here's where the opportunity comes. We remember that Christmas is a gift. Unwrapping a gift as special as Christmas takes time. We may not have sugar plum fairies dancing in our heads right now, but if we are patient we can experience that magic soon enough. If we want to harvest the blessings of Christmas, we have to put in the work first. (That's what I keep reminding myself as I drag myself out into the cold for yet another errand.) I also keep telling myself that storms precede rainbows.
I hope this year that the gift of Christmas comes with peace and joy. Here are 5 ways to invite that feeling, make it memorable and hopefully ditch the stress:
1. Focus on presence NOT presents. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the christmas wrapping. There's a lot of fluff out there. But that's not what makes Christmas memorable. Spending time with the people we love is where the true gift rests. Focus on loved ones. Time spent is worth more than dollars and cents. Instead of rushing out to buy more, focus on being present more. Put your phone down, read a book with kids, play with them, teach them about your life and your own memorable Christmas's, reflect on the past year and what made it great. Be present this season.
2. See the Good. The difference in how we all see Christmas comes down to perspective. If we are focused on the stressful aspects of it, that's what we will get from it. Shifting our brains in a different direction can make all the difference. If you would like to experience more peace and joy, than that should be your new focus. See what's great and what you're thankful for and you will see the blessings. Build upon the good and you will feel the good.
3. Be patient. If you're having a hard time believing that Christmas is a gift and your life is less than peaceful right now, wade through the christmas storm because the gift is worth it. Wait for it. Know that it will come and go in a blink of an eye. The best things come to those who wait.
4. Quality over quantity. There's a lot of expectations and great Christmas traditions out there. It's easy to want to do it all. I'm here to tell you that less can be more. Do less and make it matter. If doing everything is just too much and seriously, it is impossible to do everything, simplify. Pick ONE favorite tradition or create ONE tradition that really means a lot to you and do that ONE thing. Do it right. Make it memorable and meaningful. Doing it all brings stress which cancels out the entire experience. Forget the long list and just enjoy ONE thing. That means you need to say NO to the other things. And that's okay.
5. Stick with what you can afford. In other words, don't compare your apples to someone else's oranges. Getting more stuff or more expensive gifts never brought anyone true happiness. It's okay for your kids to learn early that they don't get everything they want and happiness doesn't come from getting what we want. It actually comes from giving not receiving (Here's one way to get them giving!) Teach this concept and you will experience more joy during the holidays. Parents, don't get caught in the commercial web that will trap your finances. Remember this post about debt? Great reminder!
Christmas isn't a gift you can hold in your hand. Christmas is what you hold in your heart. Unwrapping it takes time. Wrapping paper, ribbons, bows get thrown out with the trash. But the memories and time you spend with your loved ones create blueprints in your soul forever. Stop the rushing, slow down, be present, see what's good and enjoy the gift of LOVE that Christmas brings.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Mandy Cheney is a contributing Blogger and Photographer for PRIME
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