As of today, Christmas is only 27 days away. And of course, there’s tons of shopping, planning, and traveling to take place in the Pierce household between now and the New Year. Since I missed out on all the great deals this past week, I guess I’m going to have to spend the big bucks to finish my Christmas shopping!
I’ve noticed that during the end-of-year holiday season, everyone seems to act differently. They’re more stressed, more rushed, less patient, and less available. When I step back and think about how my behaviors change, I realize I don’t want to be like that. I don’t like the person I become.
I wonder if most of us have ever considered whether we really want to live this way. And I wonder if we’ve ever considered whether we can do something to make things different. I encourage you to think through these two questions and draw your own conclusions. In the meantime, I’ll share mine.
Do I Really Want to Live This Way?
No! I don’t want to live this way. It’s absolutely crazy.
Americans seem to value Thanksgiving and Christmas for various reasons. For me, Thanksgiving is valuable because I get a chance to spend time with some of my family members thanking God for all he’s given to us, including yummy turkey, mashed potatoes, and yes, even green bean casserole. And I value Christmas because I get a chance to spend time with some of my family members to remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, whose payment has brought us into fellowship with God. Many others in my family share the same sentiments, so it works out really well for all of us.
But there are also other traditions we hold which seem like they’re not worth the personal cost. A great example of this is gift giving. Every year we all stress out about what to get for each other, but I think if you asked all of us, you’d find that the thing we value the most about Christmas is spending time together, not giving gifts. Why do we continue to let gift giving burden us year after year? Why can’t we simply gather together for Christmas like we do for Thanksgiving to enjoy each other’s company?
I get that some people look forward to some of their yearly traditions, such as gift giving. And honestly, there’s nothing unethical or wrong about it. If that’s something you and your family enjoy doing, go for it. The question we need to ask is this: Are our traditions controlling us? And if they are, do we need to consider doing something different?
Can I Do Something Different?
This raises another question: Do we even have the power to do something different? It’s one thing to say that we want things to be different, but it’s another to actually make it different. When it comes down to it, I think we have a lot more power than we realize to do something differently.
If we want to see change happen, probably the best place to start is with our immediate families. For example, Amy and I usually don’t buy gifts for each other specifically for Christmas. That doesn’t mean we don’t buy stuff for each other throughout the year, because we do, but we give them when we buy them rather than saving everything up to give all at one time. We’ve found that the spontaneity of it makes it much more meaningful and impactful than saving them all up for one day. And it greatly reduces our stress levels during this season.
However, change is never easy. It’s very difficult to change a tradition that people, especially family members, have been doing for years. Even in your immediate family, you may find that proposing a change to a tradition is met with much resistance. If you’re set on making a change in order to provide added benefit for the family that’s met with resistance, then I’d suggest taking baby steps to get there rather than trying to make a drastic change all at once. Drastic changes rarely work well.
It’s okay to make some changes to enable all of you to focus on what you want to focus on and let the other stuff go that doesn’t help to accomplish that objective. This is my encouragement for us during the upcoming holiday season.
Do you really want to continue living this way every December? Or do you want something to change? What can you do to bring about some change so that you and your family are less stressed this year?