How Many are Enjoying a Good Christmas Spirit or a Dreadful Christmas Attitude?

christmas star

Do you look forward to the Christmas holiday as an occasion to enjoy with your family and friends, or do you dread this time of year?

            Just a few days ago, a single mom told me that Christmas was very tough on her emotions, finances, and overall attitude about the holidays.

            I had a young married couple tell me that Christmas time for them had turned into a time of strife and bickering between them and their in-laws. 

            I received an email from a stranger who read one of my books, asking for prayer for her teenage daughter who wants to commit suicide.    

            Another young lady from another country emailed that she hates the Christmas holidays because she has no family, is single, and suffers from depression.

            And, I’ll mention one more from the many messages I’ve received this week.  A young married man contacted me for prayer because he got into a big fight with his wife about not having enough money to buy Christmas gifts for their two young children because of his drinking problem.  Now she’s talking about divorce and going back to her parents. 

            What is Christmas all about, anyway? 

            It’s all about Jesus.  We celebrate His birthday.  We celebrate the good news of salvation.  Jesus is our Savior.  The Bible talks about wise men, who were divinely guided by a star to find Jesus, worship Him and present him with beautiful treasures.  Today we celebrate by giving and receiving gifts.  But the world has turned it into a marketing and shopping extravaganza.  In many cases, if stores don’t at least break even during the Christmas season, they may have to consider closing their stores.  The real meaning of this holy day has been obscured by all the greed, frenzy, and wrong expectations. 

            As I get older, I realize that it’s not about decorations, decked out Christmas trees, or gifts under the tree.  It’s about worshiping God and thanking him for giving us salvation.  It’s a time to celebrate with family the joy of being chosen and redeemed from sin and iniquity.  It’s a time to demonstrate a deeper level of love to all of our friends and relatives.  It’s party time because Christ lives in us!

            But what do we do?  We strive and worry because we don’t have enough money to buy gifts or to even create a festive atmosphere.  And many times, when we receive a gift, we frown inwardly because it’s something we already have, doesn’t fit, looks too cheap, or it’s not what we expected. 

            If you want to avoid a Christmas hangover, get proactive and plan ahead.  Here are a few thoughts:

·        Lay out your expectations ahead of time.  Make a list of the gifts you would like to receive and the gifts you would like to give.  Save money all year long for this event.  If an emergency pops up, be candid with the family members and pray over the situation.  Go to plan B and use common sense and wisdom to keep the moral up and a good attitude at all times. 

            If you’re married and gifts are important to you, take time to be specific and give him detailed information.  Don’t expect your man to read your mind.  I’ve heard women tell me they get frustrated with the vacuum cleaner or the bathroom scale, or the coffee pot they received as a gift.  These are not the perfect personal Christmas gifts for most women.  We must be specific.

·        In June of every year, my husband and I make a list of the names of family, friends, pastor, office workers, mailman, housekeeper, etc., that we would like to make a Christmas gift.  We also put the amount of the gift next to the name.  We add up the estimated amount and during those six months, we set apart a certain amount of money towards those gifts.  Come December, we are ready. 

·        I believe in orderliness, preparation, expectation, and God’s blessing.  When we have a plan, we receive a satisfactory outcome.  We must be honest with each other.  This applies to many other areas of our life, not just making preparation for Christmas gifts.  It applies to buying a home, going to college, buying a car, buying new furniture, or taking a vacation.  When we learn to plan ahead, save, pray and expect, we will find ourselves enjoying much more than if we didn’t plan ahead. 

·        I personally don’t care to receive gifts.  To me Christmas is every day.  Giving, loving, cooking, serving, celebrating birthday parties, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and keeping traditions – to me, that is celebrating a Christ-centered life.  I always tell my husband, please don’t buy me anything special, just take me shopping for a nice sweater I can wear on Christmas eve to greet my family during our traditional Christmas eve dinner.  My husband likes watches, and he makes sure I know which ones he likes.  It makes it easy for me to save the money during several months to buy him a nice watch. 

·        I don’t enjoy baking but I love cooking.  If you enjoy baking, that’s a tremendous plus you can utilize to make cookies and sweet treats for your friends and relatives.  I received this week from my neighbor, a lovely basket of homemade cookies and brownies, decked out in a red box, wrapped in clear cellophane and tied with a red ribbon.  To me that was heaven.  Someone took the time to make something special and tasty for me!  Another neighbor brought me a lovely Italian Panettone specialty cake; one of my favorite things.

·        Another idea is to take your kids to the mall to visit Santa, drink hot chocolate, and sing Christmas carols.  There’s really no excuse to not give a child a gift.  All neighborhood charities, police stations and churches, have plenty of free gifts to go around. 

·        I used to send out hundreds of Christmas card.  Today I’m down to about 50 cards and many mass emails.  Everything is changing.  Social media keeps reinventing itself and people find it easier to Facebook, email, or send a text. 

·        Think of new Christmas traditions.  Think about going to a Christmas Eve candlelight celebration followed by a nice homemade meal in your home, or a relative’s home.  This is one of our new traditions.  We open gifts on Christmas Eve and my daughter prepares a Brunch on Christmas day.  We stay in our pajamas and play all sorts of games afterwards. 

·        If you have to spend the holidays with in-laws, take turns each year.  If you both decide to spend it at home, don’t be afraid to voice your change of plans.  Sometimes, all the traveling takes all the joy out of the holidays.  Talk about it with the family and make decisions that build the morale of all the family. 

·        Take time to rest and relax.  Have fun, whether you’re single or married.  If you have children, sit down and enjoy each other, playing games, singing together, building a tent in the family room, baking cookies, watching funny movies…

·        Remember that your sanity is very important.  If you’re single, cook a meal and invite some friends over – or ask them all to bring something.  Create an atmosphere.  Don’t spend the holidays alone. 

·        Remember that your home is a ministry.  Home is the place where we learn to love each other and love God.  We learn to worship and to obey God’s commands.  We learn to be satisfied with much or with little.  We learn to give of the little or much we may have.  Home is a ministry to each other and to God. 

·        Enjoy this Christmas and have a wonderful and prosperous New Year. 

 

Dr. Iris Delgado

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