I get it…..the Holiday season is busy. Really busy. I know that in a few short weeks, you had to handle all the gift shopping and gift wrapping. Plus the pollyannas,and work parties, and Christmas cards, and baking and cookie exchanges. And then there was the holiday concerts and the lights and the tree and wreaths and candles in the windows. Plus you had to plan and cook Christmas dinner …..and of course Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas breakfast too!
But Christmas is really about things like Joy To The World and O Come All Ye Faithful…….so why do we allow it to turn some seemingly reasonable folk into stressed-out, irrational maniacs?
Yesterday, which was Christmas Eve, Joe and I saw a near brawl in the Acme parking lot. In the holiday spirit of non-giving, one driver stole the parking spot that another was clearly waiting for. And in the holiday spirit of non-forgiveness, the second driver honked his horn for about a minute, then jumped from her car and began banging violently on the others driver side window. Voices were raised, fists were shaken, and unkind words were exchanged by two complete strangers.
Thankfully, the altercation did not escalate to fisticuffs! And as Joe and I got into our own car, I smiled at the shopping cart attendant who had been cautiously watching the argument unfold. “Where is the love?” I asked him chuckling. “Good question!!” he replied with a shake of his head and a sigh of resignation. I imagine this man has seen many examples of poor behavior this holiday season.
And while most of us haven’t worked our frenzy into the need to rumble…..many of us, myself included, have let the stress of this season get the better of us.
So this got me thinking about my neighbor Debbie, who was concerned that Christmas has gotten so off track for hers and so many other families. She commented to me that Christmas is too much about material goods and stress….and less about the birth of a Savior and the love of family and friends. Now we all hear people sharing these same thoughts….Christmas season after Christmas season. But Debbie decided to actually do something about it.
This year, Debbie, her husband and her two teenage boys still planned to exchange gifts, but they were asked to purchase only ONE modestly priced gift for each person. And as additional gifts, they were also asked to give each person two PROMISES and one WISH.
And instead of going crazy about entertaining, Debbie bought a sheet cake and extended an open invitation to absolutely anyone who would like to stop by for a cup of coffee, a piece of cake, and some cheerful company on Christmas. I saw her on Christmas Eve too….and she told me that this has been the lowest stress Christmas season she has ever experienced…in her entire life.
If you are a person of strong Christian faith, Christmas is a joyous day of celebration, ” for unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11.
But even if you are not a particularly religious person, Christmas is still a day of love and celebration. We give gifts because we have people that we love. We share meals because we have people we love, and want to enjoy their company.
So today, of all days…..think of your blessings. Yes, I know you need to get a roast in the oven and you need to straighten up the kitchen before the guests arrive…..so do I.
But as you do these things, stop a moment and look into the eyes of the people that you love and be thankful for them.
And tonight, take a look into the night sky and imagine that star, so long ago.
And like my friend Debbie, let’s all make a promise. In years to come, let’s try harder to remember the love that Christmas is really about. And let’s make sure our behavior and our stress levels reflect that love.
No fist fights in the Acme…….okay? Do you promise?.
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