It happens around this time every year- I start getting excited, yet anxious, about the approaching holidays.
Excited because I love everything the holidays originally stand for: thanksgiving, family, giving, love, joy, peace, and hope. Anxious because I know how often we can screw this ideal up and turn it into 2 months of discord, entitlement, stress, and debt.
But this year, we have time- we have time to do it right, and very few of us have screwed it up…yet. We have until November 1st before the TV commercials, fat newspapers, and Groupon specials start pressuring us to buy NOW, buy MORE, and MAKE this holiday the best one EVER for our kids and loved ones. Otherwise, we’re just not in the SPIRIT!
And there’s exactly our problem. So many of us try to “get into the spirit” by being reactive to material influences, then wonder why we feel empty, cheated, rushed, pressured, and even disgusted by the entire season.
It’s time to be proactive in our approach to the holidays.
Building upon the “first things first” idea from a few weeks ago, let’s take a quiet moment to “get into the spirit” of the holidays in the way we were meant to: by being spiritual about it!
- Get the spiritual mindset: Look up the following verses and jot down the feelings they evoke that you’d like to hold onto and promote for the next few months:
i. Psalm 95:1-6
ii. Psalm 100 (yeah, the whole thing)
iii. Psalm 145:7
i. Isaiah 9:6
ii. Luke 1:14
iii. Matthew 1:18-25 (the short nativity story)
- Get the spiritual plan: What are the practical things you can plan, now, that will help you and your family maintain this spirit of thanksgiving and joy? Plan them now! Think back on your fondest memories of the holidays…of what worked in the past. Also think back on all of the things you regret missing in years past, and schedule them now.
- Drop the material waste: Flip action #2 on its head. What didn’t work? What do you regret doing? What volunteer activities, expensive gifts, elaborate parties, forced socializing, good intentions, or ambitious vacations yielded stress and discord instead of peace and joy? Write these activities down, and keep them as your “must NOT” list, right next to your “MUST” list from #2.
- Share your thoughts. Enlist the help and cooperation from your spouse, your family, and your children. Read the Bible verses aloud to young children on November 1st and get them excited about Thanksgiving. Plan an evening with your spouse in which you talk about what you do and don’t want to do this year. Finally have the courage to discuss with your extended family your idea about how to stop doing the one thing everyone’s fought about for years.
Yes, this year, we can be proactive, not reactive, in how our holidays will work, and what will receive our time, energy, and money. And we can do it in a way that will make our spouses, our children, and ourselves full of love, peace, and joy- not an ounce of deprivation.
Next week, I’ll post about practical, easy, and inexpensive ways to stretch the true Spirit of the season out so that it doesn’t devolve into 2 days of dirty dishes, debt, and despair.
Until next week! And Happy Halloween! (No advice on that one- just brush your teeth.)