Posted in focus on faith

Christmas Tips from a Reformed Scrooge

I used to hate Christmas. I know, you’re not supposed to say, “hate.” As a matter of fact I never allowed my kids to say it. How about strong dislike! Definitely seasonal dread. Not at all what it is intended to be.

Why did I dread Christmas? I was caving to culture-pressure; concerned about costs; and leaving Christ mostly out of the process. Those three factors added up to some miserable Noels!

Now if you were to ask my kids or even my husband, they would say that our Christmases were wonderful! Lots of gifts. Decorations. The annual tree-chopping with a frosty tailgate picnic to follow. Mounds of goodies. Parties. Family gatherings. A turkey the size of a Volkswagen. The family/friends hockey game. Games, Poppycock. Movies.

So what was my problem? I wasted a lot of energy on “creating” the ideal Christmas; I worried a lot about the cost of it all; and frankly, I didn’t trust or even consult the Birthday Boy for most of it!

Thankfully, that was then and this is now.

What’s changed? I have. And, to be fair, circumstances are also different. I’m older. My kids are launched and have kids of their own. Christmas for grandparents is far less stressful than Christmas for parents. The last thing I want to do is toss pearls from this lofty height and add to the seasonal guilt already weighing some of you down.

But may I encourage you?

If you dread Christmas, even just a little, stop a minute and pray. Right now. A simple cry-of-the-heart prayer. Something like, “Christmas is coming again, God. HELP!”

That’s a good place to start – with Him. It was His big idea after all.

Then brew your fav hot drink, grab a pen and paper, and jot down whatever comes to mind as you think ahead to Christmas.

You might write:

Shop for gifts,

Order gifts online, Crochet afghan for sister,

Make cookies for the cookie exchange,

Book photographer for annual family pix, Coordinate clothes for photo shoot,

Shop for clothes,

Make jellies for co-workers,

Chop tree,

Hang lights,

Decorate house,

Send Christmas photo-cards,

Host office party,

Sing in Christmas cantata,

and much much more.

GIVE IT TO HIM:

Once your list is done, put your pen down, put your hands on the list, close your eyes and ask God for guidance as you consider everything beneath your hands. Visualize His hands over your hands and, as much as possible, give it all over to Him.

Open your eyes. If your drink is still hot, have another sip.

GET RID OF IT:

Now look at the list again and cross off anything that is inspired by ego, competition, or social media bragging rights. Good-bye afghan, jellies, office party!

Years ago I removed “chop tree.” I dragged home the little artificial tree from my Sunday School class – stuffed it in the trunk of my Honda on Dec 21, lugged it into my living room, plugged it in and grinned like Scrooge. I bought a vastly reduced Christmas tree in the after-Christmas sales a few weeks later.

I also stopped risking life and limb and frostbitten digits “hanging lights.” My neighbor stopped the very next year, giving me the credit and thanking me for freeing him from something he only did to compete with me.

GIVE IT AWAY:

Take stock of what’s left. What can you delegate? I can give “cookie baking” to our 11-year-old granddaughter who loves to bake. “Shopping” went to my husband who thinks he’s Santa anyway. This made our kids very happy because Dad always buys them what they want; I would buy them what I could afford! Not nearly the same!

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!

Once your list is shortened and you have carved out a smidgen of margin, consider using some of that time to play a game with your kids, take a snowy walk under the stars (God’s light display!), decorate some gingerbread and use it as an excuse to meet a neighbor, or simply take a nap!

Christmas doesn’t stress me out any more. I do less and let others do more. I stay away from social media so I won’t be tempted to compete. I make sure my neighbors know the real me so they don’t judge me by my light display, or lack thereof. I play more. Laugh more. Rest more. Buy fewer gifts and give more money away. And I focus more on Jesus!

May your Christmas be simpler, better, and something you can look forward to this year, and always. Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

Author:

Christian writer and speaker trying to follow God one yes at a time.

6 thoughts on “Christmas Tips from a Reformed Scrooge

  1. Love your outlook. I enjoy the decorating and the get togethers with friends. I limit my baking ,but I miss when my family was here and I could do a big meal…using all my festive dishes. What I really do not like is the packing stuff and putting it up..I make list of stuff to put up and try to get festive sweaters and tops up before the shorts and beach wear come out.Bottom line..do everything without complaining and whatever I do I want to praise God with a thankful heart…cherish the memories and make the most of the changes. Thank you for sharing your inspired thoughts.

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  2. Oh Con, that was just what I needed! I was trying not to bother God with all the petty details and needed to be reminded that He is interested in my everything. Thank you
    Hi We are having some things done to the house. Replacing kitchen countertops and some painting. I’ll send a couple of pics.
    Of course nothing goes smoothly does it? Poor John is now into his third day of a 2 hour plumbing job! As a friend says” Oh a 2 hr job will take a week and 8 trips to Home Depot😄as for the kitchen They put in the wrong sink( too small by far. )Really unfortunate because it is an undermount sink in quartz and it is a pain to fix it. For them…not a big deal for us . Not the only issues .it will be nice though when it is done. Just got a great deal on wallpaper at Lowe’s . Always a good feeling. 😉
    Josh and Kiara are coming the 22nd to the 24th. Always fun. Having Johns family Christmas at the Retirement home. His mom is less confused in familiar spaces. A funny story re his mom and friends….I took down a photo album full of wedding pictures. We were sitting with 2 of her friends after ice cream sundaes and I was showing her the pictures. She was loving looking at the pix and showing them to the friend beside her , telling her who they were..(.or who she thought they were 😉)like her dad and her grandmother). The gal across from her says” I’d like to see them “ so we passed them to her then back to Oma who is delighted to see them and shows them to the lady on the right again who wants to know who they are, then the gal across says she ‘d like to see them and on and on and on😳. Great way to pass the day time in a Retirement Home. I just sat and smiled and was so glad they were all happy.

    Must go . Time to make Con’s little Energy Balls .

    Merriest of Christmas’ to you, my dear friend.

    Lovingly Dianne

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    1. The retirement home scenario is just so sweet. What a great picture of our future! And I must say that we too have done many two-hour jobs in three days also! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  3. I am from Ontario, Canada and heard you speak at a Women Alive Conference. Appreciate your humour and “letting go” attitude. My mantra is Be Still and know that I am God”. This quiets my heart and mind and some of the voices that say get going . Am learning to relax in the grace offered. Merry Christmas Jan

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