Stress does play a part at Christmas but is doesn’t have to. Have you ever noticed that in the last few months of the year everything is categorised into two distinct groups: ‘pre-Christmas’ and ‘post-Christmas’?
Aside from the frenetic last-minute Christmas present shopping that we seem to cram in (don’t try to deny it), work too seems to become more hectic with each passing day. Suddenly those loose ends are begging to be tied and all those unimportant things we’ve put off seem to re-emerge with a sense of urgency.
At home it’s no less frantic. All those renovation and gardening projects which were mooted for completion this year (at least before Christmas Day!) are now fighting for our attention. How is it that the unfinished paint job in the bathroom has suddenly become so obvious or that the garden has gone berserk almost overnight?
While time seems to whip past at record speed when dealing with deadlines, conversely those longed-for January holidays, when it’s time to relax (and collapse) at last, feel so far away. No wonder we get stressed to the max at this time of the year. I often think one of the biggest problems we face is that we’re in danger of missing the whole point of Christmas. During a time that is supposed to be about focussing on what is happening within us, we are often consumed with the external trappings, and we become task- rather than relationship-focussed.
Christmas is a time of preparation, sure, but it’s also a time to remember our friends and family. It’s a time for connection, warmth, affection and, yes, even fun. It’s a time for peace, joy and happiness, and a time for worship and adoration. (How are you going with the checklist?)
In short, it’s a time to pick up the phone and rekindle some of those relationships that have somehow slipped by the wayside (due to such a busy lifestyle no doubt), and maybe share your burdens with others who are also perhaps feeling the pressures of life bearing down on them.
Without a doubt it’s tough getting the balance when there are so many demands on us at this time of year, but it helps to remember things (or our lives) don’t have to be perfect. Is having a house that shines really as important as opening your doors to those you love and welcoming them in? Of course not.
And remember things were far from perfect for Mary and Joseph that first Christmas. In fact it appeared that not much thought had gone into the timing at all, what with a census and the necessity to travel. (I don’t even want to imagine what it would be like to have been like nine-months pregnant and travelling by donkey.)
Then there was no accommodation left, nowhere to have the baby, no family support, hospitals, doctors etc. It was all far from perfect—or was it? There were several things in abundance—love, generosity, and wonder at that miracle. Somehow these things turned a potentially unfortunate situation into a joyous one.
May this abundance be a part—the best part—of your Christmas celebrations this year.
By: Mary Dewberry