The One Time Of Year When Stress Can Be A Blessing

Too many of us get sidetracked at Christmas.  There are just too many things to do.  Sadly, nearly all of us feel compelled to do each of them.  When a friend of mine told me that he was boycotting the sending of Christmas cards, I thought he was nuts.

From a productivity standpoint, I now think he's a genius.

The Christmas Card Paradox

Think of how much time is spent looking for (or in many cases, finding the right photo for) the "perfect" Christmas card.  Then get your addresses in order.  Mail them.  You have the correct postage?

This of course is reversed as the cards have been flooding your home for the past two weeks.  What do you do with them?  Keep them- if so, for how long?  Tape them up- if so, where?  To make it worse, you may even feel compelled to cut out some of the addresses that you'll want for next year's list.  Add that to your to-do list.

And we haven't even talked about the presents.  And holiday parties.  And decorations.

Making the Break

Imagine not having all of the effects of holiday stress.  It's possible but you've got to make a decision like my friend did.

As Tony Robbins says, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."  In other words, follow the holiday routines of the masses and your productivity will lag behind.

And your spiritual life too.

It's about focus, not on each and every thing but on the right things.  Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."  The task at hand is then clear: focus on the important aspects of Christmas and leave the rest behind.

Focusing on the Truly Important

I know, some of you may be thinking that I'm putting Christmas down because of the stress it entails but hear me out.  Christmas is about Jesus the Christ being born into the world.  A baby who would one day grow up to be a man who would assume his role as the Savior.  He is at the very center of the "holidays".

It's not the cards or the parties or those quirky lights.  It's about Jesus.

I suppose the benefit of all of the craziness surrounding Christmas is actually a good thing.  As the Exsultet prayer on the eve of Easter declares sin a a "happy fault", maybe the holiday stress is a gift as well.

The Gift of Christmas Stress

The next time you receive a Christmas card, don't feel obliged to send one back.  Pray for the sender instead.

The next time you are invited to a party and cannot attend, don't feel guilty.  If you could, you would so relax.

The next time you give a gift and it wasn't "perfect", remember that it's the thought that counts.  If all gifts had to be perfect, very few of us would score well on the exam.

By focusing on Jesus, all of these holiday traditions take on new meaning.  Be good to yourself this Christmas.  Take a quiet walk to clear your head.  Read your Bible.  Call someone who is lonely.  Take a nap.  Leave the stress behind and embrace the One who makes Christmas possible.

"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."

Luke 2:4-7

*Photo by theogeo