Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Few Christmas Reminders

When you think of the Christmas Holiday season, what comes to mind? Some people get excited about the decorations, music, presents, or the real "reason for the season." Others, however, get anxious about potential family conflicts, frantic busyness, crowds and long lines at the shopping mall. It is not unusual for people to have mixed emotions, including loneliness, depression, or grief over lost loved ones who will no longer be physically present to share in the holiday spirit.

So begins an article by Dr. Ron Newman titled Holiday Ups and Downs" Coping With Holiday Stress.

Even though it's only the fifth of December, the clock is ticking. Christmas rushes toward us with ever increasing speed it seems. Finding or making gifts, making or buying cards, putting up decorations... all compete for that spare time which seems in ever more limited supply.

My brother's article comes to mind because I've suddenly realized it's time to do our "year in review" Christmas letter, our first with both kids out of the nest. Can you believe it? 2010 is just around the corner. If you're planning a Christmas letter, you'd better snap to.

Lest it sound like I am trying to pressure you, I'm not. Where does all that pressure come from which leaves us stressed out at Christmas? Some of it is certainly from within. We force unrealistic expectations on ourselves either because we think "this is the way it's supposed to be" or we don't want to let others down, often spending more than we can afford in order to keep up appearances.

Why do we push ourselves so? Frankly, as I look ahead to the next couple weeks it's starting to make me tired already.

There is such a thing as healthy stress, but unhealthy stress mixed with depression and the the unwritten rule that we're supposed to be filled with cheer during this "happy season" makes for a bad brew. Can it be we've forgotten the reason for the season?

A story from my younger days comes to mind. I used to be involved in nursing home visitation for a couple years. Having learned I worked nights, an activities director for Greenfield Nursing Home set it up for me to visit with residents who had no family. It was a wonderful experience from which I learned much. The memory that comes to mind at this moment, however, is how at Christmas time every youth group, church group, organization wanted to come sing Christmas carols to all these lonely people. It was extra work for the staff and tiresome for many of the elderly. One staffer made the remark that it would be better to come in March or April or June, or any time than now. These people need visitors year round, not once a year.

The same applies for our kindnesses. Our Christmas giving doesn't need to be over-the-top. Let it be part of a life of giving. Let's make kindness and generosity a year 'round affair.

In the meantime, don't forget that Christmas letter deadline.


Paul said...

Your entry for the day is 'spot on'! It's a great reminder for all of us to take a step back from cashier line and take stock of why we do what we do. Let the true meaning and joy of the Christmas season ring throughout the whole year!!! Thanks Ed

ENNYMAN said...

You are right, and I think there will be more of us "getting it" when we do "step back from the cashier line" as you suggest.

Thanks for taking time to leave a comment.