I don’t even like to use the words, “overcome” and “Christmas” in the same sentence!
You overcome obstacles, challenges, difficulties and hard times. But you celebrate Christmas, right? Yes, unless….
You’ve just lost a job or a loved one
You’re battling health issues and/or old age
You’re fed up with the commercialization of Christmas
The crazinenss of work and family and life just makes it impossible
Sometimes Christmas is a horrorday not a holiday and instead of celebrating you put your head down and muddle through it. Take a moment to uncrazy your Christmas. Be your best self this year by following these tips.
Celebrate in small ways
I just got an email from my daughter. She and her husband found a Christmas tree farm and invited us to come along and bring back a tree. By the time you read this it will be standing proudly in our living room all trimmed.
Let the celebration begin!
How about a quiet evening with a Christmas movie or making Christmas cookies to give away (or eat), or surprising an old friend with a festive phone call or visit?
This year scare up the ghost of Christmases past, present or future and celebrate!
Serve the needy
Before Christmas becomes the self-serving time that it usually is, point your heart toward someone else. Take time to think about someone who needs you. The need may fall in any one of the four corners of life – financial, relational, physical or spiritual. It may involve your spouse or child, an old friend or needy strangers, but let your mind move in their direction.
Sometimes the best celebration is service to others.
Embrace the blues
In no way am I proposing a pity party, nor am I suggesting you play the glad game. But for those of you who are singing the blues at Christmas, I do suggest that you can use that song to make Christmas pop.
Call to mind those who are in deeper and darker places than you. Believe it or not they’re out there and you might be just what they need.
You’ve “been there,” so become a comforter to others who face the same challenges. What lessons have you learned? How would you encourage, warn, instruct and inform others this Christmas?
Renew old friendships
Yesterday I did this. I spent a wonderful morning with a couple that hosted a Bible study for teenagers when I was in high school. Every Thursday night they opened their home and we gathered around their fireplace to talk, pray, study and find our way into the future.
Now I look to the past and realize how much a part of my future they were. If there is someone like this in your life, don’t let this Christmas pass without telling them so.
Review the year
Forgive me for what I am about to say, but to those of you who have sent me a family letter at Christmas telling your story over the past 12 months – I probably didn’t read it. I know it meant a lot to you and that’s the point. Sharing it was your way of celebrating with me.
Take the time to look back on this year. Do it with someone who was with you on the journey. Mark out the highs and the lows and ask yourselves this question: How can the events of this past year make me a better person? What did I learn about struggles, achievement, love and life?
Make 2015 more than just another Auld Lang Syne.
Schedule quality time
You’d like to think that it happens automatically. “Schedule” makes you think of things you have to do at work. Quality time should be the opposite, right?
Right, in a world filled with unicorns and geese laying golden eggs. In that other world we live in, the calendar is our nemesis. It lurks around every corner, a smirking time-stealer always coveting more.
So this Christmas, start early listing those you will put on your calendar. They deserve at least as much respect as your dentist or trash man.
Find a cause
The best causes are close to home. It’s easy to neglect those closest to us while making ourselves feel good with charitable work far away.
Charles Dickens coined a name for this nonsense: “Telescopic philanthropy.” It is the title of chapter 4 in Bleak House where he introduces Mrs. Jellyby, a wealthy benefactor who “devoted herself entirely to the public,” especially to the “African project,” while neglecting her home, husband and children.
Far away can be down the street or in the community if it means that the nearest to you are the neediest.
Start with the people you know best, and then explore ways you might extend your reach.
Find a place
This is different for every one of us and it’s not always geography.
An elderly woman at Starbucks was sitting sipping tea explaining to a friend how she has worked hard to refuse invitations at Christmas. One table away I overheard the conversation.
“No one wants me to be alone, but I tell them nicely ‘No thank you.’”
“But why?” asked the friend.
“I’m in customer service. I spend my days listening to people complain and making collection calls. Christmas is a time when I can close it down. Christmas will be a Me day.”
Ok I get that. I’m an introvert and sometimes I seek out that same place. Yours might be different. People to lift you up, a chair to sit you down, a vacation to get you out or home to bring you back. Find that overcoming place and don’t let Christmas keep you from it.
Overcome the Box
…of the house, of the stores, of the city or the country. Leave the familiar and just walk or drive or run. Somehow break out of the box Christmas puts you in and create an experience that is new and brings you closer to the spirit of the holiday.
I still remember the Christmas Eve I spent in the emergency room. Following a Christmas program at church two “angels” (one of them, my son) were wrestling in the lobby holding the battery-powered candles they had used in a play. His broke, exposing the glass of the bulb and it slashed his forehead.
On the way to the ER I thought how surprising and, in a weird way, how special it was that my son and I should be celebrating Christmas Eve at the hospital. The doctor patched him up and we came back to the house for cocoa, a Christmas to remember!
That’s an extreme example of an out-of-the-box Christmas. Yours might be more intentional but either way, get out of that box!
Close your eyes
There’s a lot to see at Christmas – the lights, the greens, the wide-eyed children, the suffocating traffic and long lines. It’s a mixed bag, not always pretty.
Work with me here: close your eyes. What do you see? I see a Christmas Eve with blinding snow. My car stuck on the side of the road, I set out to walk the mile or so home. Somehow this “mishap” has risen to the top of my Christmas memory list.
What do you see when you close your eyes? What appears when you turn blind eyes to all the rest and focus on the best?
It’s true that sometimes we only see what we want to see, but at Christmas that’s a good thing.