Noise. Noise. Noise.
This is what your typical Saturday before Christmas consists of. Now, if you are an online shopper or have finished your Christmas To Do list, then kudos to you!
If you are like nearly every other American, either today has already been or will be total chaos for you. I encourage you in weathering the storm and know that tranquility is eventually awaiting.
This is the process of surviving the second busiest holiday shopping weekend (day after Thanksgiving probably being the first) of the year.
This is a process that you willingly chose.
You might be thinking, “Oh, no I did not”, but oh yes you did.
We are all responsible for the choices we make and their consequences.
I, too, use to be just like you and caught up in the excitement of the holiday rush of getting wonderful things and surprising those on my list of family, friends and even foes. But I realized that the process was draining, stressful and had started making me resent this time of the year.
…a holiday season primarily intended for celebrating the most prominent and significant birth on earth; baby Jesus. The same baby Jesus who was born to bring joy, peace and love into the world. The same Jesus who saved us from having to solely carry the burden of stress and sadness.
So why would I allow the markets of this world; those that don’t even recognize or respect the reason for the holiday but promote the profits during this season to dictate my experience?
It doesn’t start and stop with the retailers. What about those loving and caring persons on the list to receive? We have all probably been told or at least heard, “Don’t worry about getting me anything…I have all I need…it’s your thought or love that counts.”
Have you ever tried not getting them anything and being the recipient of their ill feelings at the next family gathering? Yes, the holiday season brings the ‘best’ out of us!
So now what?
Right now, you are probably reading this as you sit in your car taking a breathier before you venture off inside the next store. You might be at home trying to check and see who on your list has yet to make it underneath your tree. Whatever your current state, ask yourself a relevant question:
Am I enjoying my holiday?
Answer without thinking about it. Answer this question without thinking, “well I will be after I do this…or when I find this…or after this is over with.”
That doesn’t justify your answer. That doesn’t allow you to walk in your truth. Your happiness should not be sacrificed or determined based upon making sure everyone is happy. Sure we want our loved ones to be happy and give them things that might contribute to placing a smile on their faces. This is the season of giving and so is every day for that matter.
But seriously, who is more important than the one who was born to give the greatest gift and most awesome sacrifice? No one on your list is esteemed greater.
I know we evangelicals and church folks like to say and expound on “God loves a cheerful giver” and “It’s better to give than receive” therefore using holiday shopping and the gift exchange ritual as a valid explanation for doing so. Think about this for me:
How cheerful are you right now as you are trying to please those on your list?
How cheerful are you as you sacrifice gifts over bills and obligations?
How is your effort to be a ‘giver’ causing you unhealthy emotions right now?
How does all this stress and agony underline the reason for the birth of Jesus?
By no means am I encouraging you to stop being a giver. I am challenging you to do like I did over 10 years ago and celebrate Christmas (the day and season) in a way that authentically represents your truth about this season.
REMEMBER THE REASON
It is so clichéd yet so simple. If you naturally think of shopping every time Christmas is mentioned or in your conversations, you have truly forgotten the reason. And it isn’t entirely your fault. We are programmed like this from childhood. Intentionally seek God more during advent season and ask him what to do with your time, talents and money too!
DEFINE THE SEASON
This will take effort on your part. Years ago when I first decided to do this it meant I had to unlearn what had been habitually taught to me in schools, corporate America and in some cases, even at church. After intentionally seeking God I allowed him to define for me how he wanted me to celebrate Christmas. My primary and only focus became pleasing him. This didn’t exclude others, but God started showing me how to include others.
BE THE DEFINITION
After being clear about the reason for the season and defining it for myself, I had to live it out. I could not allow others to make me feel guilty about celebrating Christmas differently than them. For example, every Christmas season I’m asked (mostly by new people), “Have you finished your list yet?” “We have decided to do this as a group and we expect you to….” I use these statements and declarations as a teaching tool. You notice I didn’t mention my family because after year two, they all got the picture. Now if I can just get my in-laws “trained”.
Christmas is meant to share with others and mostly remember who Jesus is to us. Its nothing wrong with shopping for others, but do not allow the hoopla to stress you out that you end up not enjoying this season and start resenting it every year. This is not what Jesus was born for. Its not too late to start making a change this Christmas. How will I be spending my Saturday before Christmas? Exactly how I want to!