Holiday Survival Guide, Part 2

Christmas, as the song goes, is the most wonderful time of the year. Another carol adds children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile. At least that’s how it should be, right?

A generation ago, people longed for the classic Norman Rockwell holiday table with joyful family members watching as dad expertly carved the perfectly roasted holiday turkey.

Today, social media has raised the bar exponentially; and many families are clamoring to keep up with everyone else’s seemingly perfect, if not extravagant, holiday festivities. Here are some ideas that might help to avoid some of these holiday pitfalls.

Make a Change

Traditions can be wonderful, routines not as much, and ruts never are. Isaiah 43 tells of a difficult time for the Israelites. Verse 19 promised that God would do a new thing that they would surely know.  Don’t be afraid to change things up!

Let someone else host the family dinner. Change the menu. Go out to eat. This can be especially important if there has been a loss in the family through death or divorce.

One large family chose to have Christmas dinner at Waffle House and blessed the servers with a most generous tip. That pleasant new memory helped to displace what could have been a very unpleasant one.

Don’t Compare

John 21 records a conversation between Jesus and Peter when Peter mentions John. Our Lord’s response was “what is that to you.”

Staying in our lane, being grateful for our blessings and refusing to compare or compete with anyone else is a great way to avoid stress. Try taking a sabbatical from social media!

Refuse to Quarrel

Jesus wasn’t kidding when He warned in Matthew 10:36 that our enemies will be those of our own household. Sometimes the holidays are what brings us together.

He also gave us a plan in Matthew 5:44 when He commanded—not suggested—that we love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us and pray for those who despitefully use and persecute us.

If we will trust Him fully, take these commandments literally, and implement them meticulously. It’s amazing how quickly the tensions will diminish. Proverbs 15:1; 16:7; and Romans 12:18-21 build on this foundation.

Give Gifts that Money Can’t Buy

For many  families finances are tight. What if instead of piling on more debt, a family agrees ahead of time to give coupons as gifts instead of things purchased.

Imagine a coupon for one evening of free babysitting or child care, four-hours of house cleaning, yard work, car detailing, a home-cooked meal, errands run or chauffeuring for someone who can no longer drive. Time is truly a gift of love that money cannot buy.

Keep Christ in Christmas

“Jesus is the Reason for the Season” is not a cliche—it is gospel truth. Reading the gospel story of Luke 2, having a birthday cake for Jesus if you have small children complete with candles and singing.

Sharing His love with others especially those who may not have family can be perhaps the most meaningful and memorable way to honor Him and invest our time during the Christmas season.

Keep It Simple

Conceptually the Christian life, and Christmas in particular, seems so very simple. We love God and we love others. It becomes complex when the world, the flesh and the devil seek to steal His joy and peace and blessings from us.

Being intentional in our focus,  and choosing the best and not settling for the good, can go far in keeping the joy in Christmas. It really can be the most wonderful time of the year!