Hey friends, how are you? How was your weekend? What did you do? Well… my weekend was quite eventful, thank you for asking.  We left very early on Friday to pick up the girls from their university (praise the Lord, they attend the same school). The entire week, we told them to be ready to go when we arrived, because there, wasn’t our final destination. Of course, we had to wait for one, because she wasn’t in her dorm and the other was not fully packed. The thought to leave them behind, albeit a brief one, was very present.  I love this movie ‘Johnson Family Vacation’ with Cedric the Entertainer.  My favorite line is ‘I want to be on the I-10 by 10”, because it definitely sounds like something my husband would tell us.  Perhaps now is a good time to say, the girls really didn’t take it far; I am very rarely on time for anything, although in my defense, I am trying to do better.  Wow! All that spiel and I still haven’t told you about my weekend! 

After leaving with the girls, we travelled to a small town in Illinois called Cedar Lake, not far from Chicago.  We spent the time visiting with family, which was a soothing balm to our souls.  Of course, we all went thrift shopping while we there. It was a wonderful weekend, spent with wonderful people doing wonderful things, eating wonderful food.  

I love this time of the year; have I said that before? I love Christmas time! I find, like summertime, people smile and laugh longer.  They are quite quick to encourage and uplift others, even strangers; not even the snow and the cold is a deterrent. It’s the time of the year, that in spite of the stress that usually accompanies this season, people are just generally more friendly. But stress is optional isn’t it? Stress isn’t a necessity during this time of the year.  Let me share with you 10 ways to destress this Christmas season.   

Re-read the story of Jesus’ birth, but don’t stop there.  Go on, continue on to read about His miracles, about His time with His friends.  Read on about His life and subsequent death, and then finish with His resurrection.  I have found when I read about Jesus’ life, it helps me to put the Christmas season into perspective. The gospel of Luke is my favorite, during this time of the year.  

Of course, don’t stop there; take the time to reflect on past year.  Perhaps there were goals you were unable to accomplish and I’m sure there were a few victories too; now is a good time to take it all to the Lord in prayer.  Talk to the Lord, He is waiting for you.  

Do not give with the expectation of receiving.  Lower the expectations, it will save you the disappointments and perhaps the regrettable rifts in relationships. It’s not worth it, take my word for it, I’ve been there.  Say it with me, “people are more important than things”.  

Take the time to verbalize our gratitude. I know I said so already, but it is so very necessary to be reminded of our blessings.  It’s easy to compare ourselves to others, as if they are the standard, and find ourselves ‘lacking’ in one way or another.  When we remind ourselves of our blessings, we are able to appreciate our lot and also to trust the Lord faster for future needs and goals.

Spend time with family and friends this season.  Be quick to bring those without close family members nearby, into the fold.  Take photographs and make memories. Baking parties and pampering sessions are great opportunities to get to know ‘new’ people.  Who knows what the new year holds?

Make a budget for gifts and try to stick to it.  Treat this time as a season, rather than a day.  Remember giving does not necessarily mean this action will be reciprocated. Give only what we can afford to give; debts, because of Christmas isn’t a good look and that was never the Lord’s intention for His birth to be used as an opportunity for His people to be indebted.  

Definitely listen to Christmas music, put it as loud as you can bear and then sing and dance along.  Invite the kids to sing and dance too, or dance with our spouse, enjoy the laughter that accompanies these sing-alongs.  

Take the time to visit Christmas events. In our neck of the woods there is ‘Lights on the Lake’.  Every year they pick a theme and then decorate the entire length of the lake with figurines made out of lights.  It is stunning.  

Do not over schedule the time allotted to us.  Do not become so busy that we lose sight of the beauty of this time of the year.  Intentionally slow down, let’s make every attempt to end the year, the way we want to begin the new year. ‘No’ is a good word.  

Take some alone; time to do exactly what we want to do.  Let’s remember what it feels like to be a child again. Let’s take note of the fact that, that’s exactly what we are, in the Lord’s sight.  We are His little children. Let’s rest and find solace, even if we have to ask others for help.  

Christmas is a wonderful event, but the choice of stress or lack of it, is ours to make.   What are some of your ways to de-stress? Is this time of the year very stressful for you?

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