November 17, 2010

A Stress-Free Christmas?

(Note:If you are the kind of person who seems to glide through life with little or no stress and worry, this article isn't really for you.  But if you've ever nearly had a panic attack over lumpy gravy, please keep reading...)

I've seen it on the cover of all my favourite magazines: Have a Stress-Free Christmas, Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining, Stress-Free Gift Guides for Every Budget.

And it has left me wondering: when did stress-free become our main objective?

Are we so stretched as a society, so exhausted, overworked and overwhelmed that our primary goal for Christmas is that it be without stress?

Or have we just accepted that as a goal because the magazines we trust tell us to and it seems like a good thing?

Maybe a little bit of both?

Here's the thing:  If you normally experience stress while making a normal weeknight dinner with just your own children at your feet, then you are probably going to be stressed when you're preparing a holiday feast with half a dozen extra children to trip matter how much you've planned ahead and simplified the menu.

If you find the mall to be a stressful place on a rainy Saturday in May you are going to find it stressful on the second Saturday in December. Guaranteed.

Add in some less than ideal family situations, a tighter than usual budget, and some miserable weather outside and stress seems kinda unavoidable.

And is that really such a bad thing?

Christmas for me is a month and a half of excitement, personal reflection, sparkly things shedding sparkles on my floor, hot chocolate and stress.

Am i suggesting that you should just give up on trying to keep Christmas simple and fill your calender with more excitement than any family could possibly cram into one holiday? And allow yourself to become so harried that you spend most of advent barking at your children?  All in the name of a perfect Christmas?  Of course I'm not!  If you've been reading my blog you know that I like for things to be simple, lovely, and authentic.  What I am suggesting is that we should look at what we want most out of this Christmas season and pursue that.  I'm pretty certain that stress-free isn't really at the top of very many lists.

This Christmas I want to be intentional about creating community among the people I love most. I want to bless the people who bless me everyday.  I want to show love to some friends and neighbors I've failed to really connect with over the year.  I want to cook and clean and wrap and give and sing and pray with the miracle of a sinless child born to bear the weight of my own sin at the forefront of my mind.  Avoiding stress? That is way down the list.

And you know what?  Knowing what you REALLY want to get and give this Christmas season (hint: I'm not talking about stuff here) probably will remove some of the stress.  But if it doesn't?  That's okay too.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.  I love reading what you ladies have to say!


  1. This is so refreshing... I've never thought about stress quite like this. I went to the mall yesterday and for the love of pete Macy's was having some uber sale, I couldn't even get through the store and into the mall there were so many people...I got stressed and thought OH NO! It's started already! I'm going to rethink that ...I going to make a list of what I want out of the holidays and not stress myself out worrying about stressing out.
    (thanks buckets for linking up! Please come back every Wednesday and inspire me!)

  2. We don't go crazy when it comes to stressing about gifts which makes me feel really good. We have a rule that we only buy presents that the person will use and not oddball stuff that will go to waste or break quickly. We focus more on crafts and spending time doing things that you can only do (mostly) in the winter, like ice skating. I think one way to avoid stress is to create some really wonderful family traditions and focus on them each year instead of worrying about gifts. We do a lot of homemade gifts as well, so we avoid the hustle and bustle of shopping.

  3. You're right--we can't avoid stress at the holidays or even on a regular ol' Monday. However, I do notice that, every year starting in mid-November, I start feeling anxious and frazzled for no reason in particular. I think that it's simply holiday anxiety. Even when we are doing "simple" (I looooove simple), I still feel this nagging pressure. Now I wonder: could it be the anticipation of the holiday stress I am *supposed* to be feeling? Hmmmm...

  4. I love this, as I do the rest of your blog!!!! :)

  5. Great point of view. It's really not about being stress-free so much as managing the stress so you spend time, money, and energy on the things that are important.


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