This month at The Water’s Edge, WE are preparing for a pretty good Christmas. Not an attempt at a perfect Christmas filled with stress and disappointment. But a pretty good Christmas. A Christmas that we buy less but give more. A Christmas that gives us more joy than anxiety. A Christmas that gives us rest and reflection and excitement as the new year approaches. A Christmas that helps us experience the birth of Jesus and his rebirth in our lives.
Here are four things to eliminate or reduce so that you will have a more meaningful Christmas.
If you are looking for the meaning of Christmas you won’t find it under a tree. Or in a stocking. Unless your name is Jesus, Christmas is not your birthday! (OK, I’m guessing one out of every 365 people is born on Christmas, but you know what I mean.) The biblical account of Christmas is about simplicity. Sometime between then and now, Christmas became about commercialism. But we can reclaim Christmas. Don’t overspend. Set a reasonable budget and stick to it. Focus on gifts that are meaningful and presents that can create memories. If you really have to spend a lot—give presents to refugees and homeless people and children from poor families.
The holiday season brings an increased sense of obligation and busyness. Things like parties, concerts, gatherings of friends and family, and school activities. Here is something you need to know: Nobody controls your calendar unless you let them. You have two options when you are given an invitation. 1) Yes. 2) No. And just so you know, “No” is a complete sentence. You don’t need to explain your absence to anybody. Plan times to do the things you want to do with the people you want to do them with. Schedule periods of rest and reflection. And say “no” to people and events that aren’t life giving.
Overeating (and overdrinking)
Food has been part of celebration since the beginning of time. Gathering around a table or a fireplace and eating good food is a highlight of Christmas for many people. Food is a necessity for survival. It nourishes us and connects us with each other. But, we can have too much of a good thing in life. Gluttony happens when we raid the pantry or the refrigerator for spiritual malnutrition. It leaves our stomachs full and our hearts empty. And less healthy too.
Christmas cards, social media, stories at the office—they give you highlights of other people’s lives and their Christmas. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison leads to jealousy and envy which creates discontentment and depression. It is not possible to practice envy and gratitude at the same time. Comparing yourself to others will turn what could be sacred and holy into something that is profane and unhealthy. Be grateful. Be generous.
If you don’t do these four things, I have a feeling your Christmas will be better than pretty good!