Merry Christmas! I hope this holiday season has treated you and your family well.
While this time of year is often considered the best time of year, it can also be the most stressful. Between family travelling in and out, last minute Christmas shopping and the overall “busyness” of the holiday season, it’s difficult to find the joy in this time.
Remember what this time is about. Among all the distractions, that’s a pretty tall order to fill. You have the endless lines anywhere you go, feeling obligated to get Aunt Susie, the one you see once a year, a nice present, and, for us Texans, sweating in our ugly Christmas sweaters. Sounds frustrating to me, and it is, but that’s not what it’s all about. This time is about family, spreading joy, and most importantly–enjoying and remembering the gift that Christ’s life brought to us.
It’s much easier said than done, but it starts with simply reminding ourselves about the reason for the season. Whenever I find myself stressing about getting the right presents or if I’ll have the money, I have to remind myself, It’s not about the presents, it’s about who the presents are for. We all want to be great gift givers, but the best gift you can give those you love, is your time and appreciation.
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply remember why this time is joyful. You have to create joy. The best way to create joy is to spread it. Do things for others, be thoughtful, and smile! In a stressful time, those little things can make a huge difference in your life and in the lives of others.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always found this time of year very “commercialized”. I remember complaining about businesses being open today and the focus on spending money instead of time. I couldn’t find the joy. I was a Grinch. But, much like the Grinch, I learned that the best way to find Christmas joy is by spreading it. I cannot remember where I read it, but I remember reading an article about a guy who had the same struggle. He talked about how he couldn’t stand this time of year, but he never did anything to change it. Until one year, he finally did something about it. Instead of waiting out the holiday’s in his apartment, he went out and placed candy canes taped with “Merry Christmas” notes on people’s cars and doors, he paid someone’s insurance bill, and he volunteered at his local Salvation Army. By the end of the day, he said it was the best Christmas he’s ever experienced.
Reading that really inspired me. Instead of secluding myself away from the general public (my usual holiday move), I decided to try out spreading the holiday joy. Lemme tell ya, “candy caning” a parking lot is an adrenaline rush you wouldn’t expect. Seeing people smile at the unexpected message is truly a joyful experience, even seeing the confused look on people’s faces as they look around at other cars.
I know we all have our own bills to pay, but, if you ever get the opportunity, I highly recommend blessing somebody by paying one of theirs. It is truly a humbling and joyful experience. Hearing someone break down in appreciation is something you’ll never forget and it will create an everlasting impression on that person, and yourself.
I’ll leave you with this passage from Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Don’t be a pile of dry bones this Christmas! Remember the reason for our joy and when you struggle to find joy, create it.
Merry Christmas and God Bless!
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