How to Have a Joyful Heart and Mind at Christmas
by Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar
“Our Christmas is ruined,” a coworker lamented as we ate lunch together. “The kids want all the latest tech gadgets and Joe and I can’t afford them.”
“I know what you mean,” said another coworker. “My sister is getting a divorce and my brother and his family are vacationing over the holiday. Christmas just isn’t the way it used to be when I was a kid.”
A third coworker piped in, “Christmas is at my house this year and my mother-in-law is coming. I want everything to be perfect.”
As I listened, my heart broke for my friends, although their complaints are familiar. I’ve heard them before in years’ past. In fact, I’ve been there. When appropriate, I try to remind and/or explain the Reason for the season, except in all our busyness it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. When that happens, our joy turns to pure dread.
The truth is that no matter who you are, how much money you have (or don’t have), and whatever your family dynamic is, you can still have joy in your heart despite the circumstances. Here are six ways to do that:
Determine to give gifts that cost time and love instead of a lot of money.
Gifts like baked goods are always appreciated. For teens and younger children, give them homemade coupons, promising a future outing like a movie or trip to the museum—time that you’ll spend together.
Give “white elephant” gifts or “re-gifts.”
Let’s face it; most of us have too much stuff. I, for instance, have a portable roaster oven in the garage that I used once. It’s in its original box and will make a great gift for my nephew who recently rented his own apartment. If you have a family, make a game out of re-gifting. Visit stores like Goodwill Industries. It’s amazing what treasures you’ll discover there.
One Christmas, my eldest granddaughter went up to her room and either made or found little gifts for everyone in her family as well as my husband and me. She took time to think of each of our personalities and was willing to part with some things she treasured in order to gift them to someone else. For me, Anna made a forever-scarf that she cut from the hem of a skirt she no longer wanted. It worked beautifully. How’s that for creativity!
Limit the number of gifts and their costs.
If you have children, tell them to make a list of what they want, not exceeding a certain dollar amount. Then emphasize that you’ll pick out ONE gift to buy them. It’s important to teach young children and teens that Christmas isn’t about the “getting.”
Volunteer at your church, an outreach center, local soup kitchen. If you have children allow them to serve others less fortunate than themselves. It’s amazing how their perspectives on Christmas will change. Another way to serve as a family is to invite those who are alone during the holidays into your home—or visit them on Christmas.
Focus on the positive and your personal strengths.
One psychologist suggests limiting those great expectations. No one is perfect, and the majority of formal dinner parties aren’t either. Learn to improvise, relax and laugh. Your guests will be more at ease if you are. Most importantly, don’t predict disasters. You’ll surely find them.
Read the Christmas story as found in the Bible, specifically Luke 2:1-20.
When you wrap your head around the lowly birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, all else seems to fade in comparison. The Christmas decorations, the food, the gifts under the tree all seem pointless.
But showing God’s love, just as He has shown us, is the greatest gift we can give others.
Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a Wisconsin author of over 40 books with one million copies sold! The three components in all of her stories are faith, family and forever relationships. In addition to novels, she blogs and writes devotionals and magazine articles with the hope of encouraging women wherever they are in their spiritual journeys. For more information, and to sign up for her quarterly newsletter, log onto her website: www.andreaboeshaar.com. Like her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Andrea.Boeshaar. And follow her on Twitter: @AndreaBoeshaar.
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