When the Holidays Threaten to Hurt You

being light can i trust god christmas christmas prayer ideas gods got this meet me at the manager Nov 21, 2023

It's 2 days til Thanksgiving, and while some people usher in the holiday season the minute they sweep out the trick or treaters, I consider Thanksgiving the beginning of the holidays and my anniversary the end. (Betcha thought I was going to say, "New Year's Day, huh?!" My anniversary is on January 3, and the children are usually still on Christmas vacation, therefore...the bookend that closes out the holiday season is January 3 in my world.)

And that's what this blog post is about--the holidays in your world. For some people the holidays are full of gingerbread spice and everything nice. For others, they are filled with snips and snails and puppy dog tails! For most of us they are a combination of both. This article is specifically for most of us. Here are 5 ways to not only survive the holidays but to participate in them in as an act of worship. Afterall, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year (aka my wedding anniversary) are all occasions to focus on God's goodness toward us, the hope He delivers, and His tender mercies that are new every morning. Here's how...

1. Reflect on the origin of the holidays

When you go back and remember (which is one of the primary reasons for days to be set aside. The Bible calls these days of remembrance. Go read Leviticus 23, every holy-day was established by the LORD so that the people would remember where they'd come from, and how faithful He'd been to them.

I've recorded a podcast that is filled with information on the first Thanksgiving and origins of our Christmas traditions. Go listen to it, when I put it together, I was humbled by what I learned, especially about the people whom we remember on Thanksgiving. When I consider the heap of loss they had just endured, I'm humbled by their resilience, and their determination to thank God for what He'd provided rather than curse Him for what He'd allowed to be taken from them.

2. Lower your expectations.

I don't know about you, but I feel this self-induced pressure to outdo myself every year this time of year! Somehow I want to wrap up the very depth of my love for whomever is on my gift list, and I want to tie it with a perfect bow.

How does one possibly do that? By spending more? By investing deeply? By baking homemade cinnamon rolls and serving them warm as they read letters you wrote them? (THIS, is what my daughter did last year and it was one of the most meaningful experiences I'd ever shared around the Christmas tree. She came closer than almost anyone ever to wrapping her love up in a box and tying it with a bow.) 

We give gifts as tokens of our love; God gave Jesus as an expression of His love for us. The LORD God Almighty sent His only begotten Son who was wrapped up in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Even His packaging spoke volumes to the shepherds who came to see him. Did you know that is was a common practice to wrap the newborn unblemished lamb in swaddling cloth and place it in a manger? Look what I found: 

When the mother ewe was preparing to give birth, she was taken to a special birth place, or to the only cave designated, to give birth to the sacrificial Iambs. This cave was kept sterile and clean for the arrival of newborn sacrificial Iambs. The newborn lamb was immediately wrapped in clean swaddling cloths to protect them and keep them from blemish and danger. Swaddling clothes described in the Bible consisted of a cloth tied together by bandage-like strips. When the declaration was made to these Levitical Shepherds that watched their sheep in a special field full of sacrificial lambs, they apparently knew exactly where to go to discover that Baby. There were apparently many places that held mangers, but they comprehended immediately where to go to find the babe… to their cave, where their sacrificial lambs were born and wrapped in “swaddling clothes.” Shepherds and Swaddling Clothes

During this year's holiday season reflect on the fact that God has already given all of us the perfect gift of His mercy and grace when He sent Jesus to die for our sins and make the way for us to be in relationship with Him. We get to live forever with God, and Jesus, and our loved ones who've gone before us in paradise! How great is that?!

Don't let the pressure to give the perfect gift overwhelm you. Just wrap up any ol' little something and celebrate the joy of knowing you get to share in the love of God.

Also, don't let any of your holiday pleasure depend on others! Don't let it depend on your children, your spouse, those that didn't make it to your table this year, those that did---don't let any of your holiday joy depend on the people you love who are or are not behaving the way you'd love for them to behave. 

You can't change your people. And you cannot spend enough money, time or talent to give them a gift that could come close to expressing how much they mean to you. But you can spend some time with Jesus and invite Him to flood you with love that splashes out on those who make it to where you are; and on those who don't. 

3. Avoid social media, fakebook and instaslam.

No those are NOT typo's. While social media is great for sharing good news and connecting with family and friends who live far away, it is TERRIBLE for setting the bar so high in holiday cheer that you could never possibly reach it! It's also no substitute for sharing time with those who are close enough to enjoy face to face. 

Put your bow on your wreath, hang that wreath on your door and call it done! Dare that silly elf to invade your space making you like a crazy woman on pinterest trying to come up with yet some more mischief for him to get into! It's quite alright if your house doesn't look like a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Seriously! Don't get so distracted by the trimmings that you miss the point of the season! Let's do a whole lot more face to face sharing and a whole lot less staging so that "friends" and "follower" can like, love, and care about us!

Consider writing an old fashioned hand written letter inside a Christmas card that goes to someone who really knows you, instead of stamping envelopes containing pictures of you and your family, and sending them out to the masses. There are so many ways we can redirect our focus from having the picture perfect Christmas, to living a real one. 

4. Do something kind for someone else.

No matter how hard the holidays might be for you, I guarantee there's someone else who's got it worse. Find them and do something kind for them. 

Have you seen the movie, The Man Who Invented Christmas? If not, watch it! It's a great telling of the story behind the story, A Christmas Carol. The movie traces the life of Charles Dickens while he was writing his classic Christmas tale. And as a result of the publishing of A Christmas Carol, holiday giving increased incredibly! 

One of the BEST ways to overcome holiday depression is to do something kind for someone else. Being benevolent will lift the fog quicker than pills, therapy, or even prayer (and you know how I feel about prayer)! 

5. Choose to be grateful.

What a great way to begin the holiday season, with thanks-giving. There's nothing about receiving in this word. It's all about giving thanks for what you've already received! 

The holiday doldrums find their origins in feeling sorry for ourselves because of what we don't have, don't get, and don't understand. Why not turn that all around by choosing to offer a sacrifice of praise?

So what, she's got it and you don't?! 

Who cares that they can afford whatever you can't?! 

And, well, it really does stink that you...and they... 

But, you get to choose how to respond, and you can choose to offer this year's holidays and your experience of them to the Lover of your soul as a sacrifice of praise.

Praise Him because He's worthy.

Praise Him because He's good.

Praise Him because He's faithful.

Praise Him because He's God.

Ask Him to help you focus on the good and not the bad; on the what-you-can-do, and not what you can't. Invite Him to rearrange your stinkin' thinkin' and put you in a place where you can bless someone else. 

Give the holidays to the One they belong to--and celebrate the Holy-Days with Him this year.


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