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How’s your holiday stress?

This is hard to admit, but it seems that for the last few years I’ve had to work a bit to enjoy the holidays. It seems that every year the buying season starts earlier, and that every year it takes me longer to get into the “Christmas spirit”. I’ve asked myself why, and I think there are a few reasons. Perhaps you feel the same way; perhaps not.

The biggest problem for me seems to be that I start to feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks that need to be accomplished during this time period. This has got to be related to getting older. I know that when I was younger, and my children were young, I had even more to do, but it didn’t seem like a chore. Now, sadly, many pieces of the preparation for Christmas can start to feel that way.

Actually, what is probably behind it all is that my children aren’t youngsters any longer. They are young men, living away from home, and it really is different now. That’s probably why it takes longer to get the “spirit” — part of the reason doesn’t show up until much later in the season. One son can only come for a visit; the other comes home from school, but not for a week still. So in some ways the season doesn’t feel it like starts until our family is all together.

This could get worse before it gets better; soon I imagine there will be Christmas Days where we can’t all be together. I realize this, so I know I’d better work on changing my thoughts and attitude. I find myself wondering if that excited special feeling will return when there are grandchildren to believe in Santa, and to take to see the manger scene at church. I imagine that time will bring its own specialness, but as I’m adjusting to this empty nest time of life, I want to renew the feelings behind the “Christmas spirit” for myself. I want to be able to feel it whether or not there are little children around to kindle that spark.

As a Christian, what’s behind it for me is that sense of anticipation that gets renewed every year, that sense of waiting for the Christ child to be born again. All of the gift-giving, gatherings, decorations are all supposed to be about marking the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I think that the solution to my problem needs to be reserving more time for what is important to me spiritually.

This is probably the heart of the solution for anyone who feels a bit weary of the all the commercialism of the season. No matter what our religious beliefs, or whether we have any at all, we all need to dig a little deeper to think about what really matters, especially at this time of year. Helping others in need, helping those who are lonely, trying to bring a little more brightness to our corner of the world — these are the things that “make the season bright”. So that’s what I’m going to try to do with the time remaining before Christmas. Just writing this makes me feel a bit more that “Christmas spirit”. I hope that reading it helps you too.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Seasons Greetings! Happy Holidays!

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