Decorating – personal preference is necessary here, and the current season of life that you are in! When my older sister told me she didn’t have to heart to decorate like she used to – I just didn’t get it! Now I do, sometimes when you have many years of decorating your home for Christmas under your belt – you just need a break! I liked to decorate every area of my home, I still do but the time required is a fraction of what it used to be. For a little Christmas in every room I choose my favorite decorations and place them in a box with some greens I have cut from the yard and ribbon. Moving from room to room I add a little “Christmas” there. The best part is when I am ready to put my decorations away I take a box and remove my decorations. It is simple, I enjoy it, and it requires little time and effort. Note: I often swap out a permanent decoration placing it in said box – for a Christmas one. If you love to decorate and have the time and energy required – decorate until your heart is content! We all love to visit homes like yours during the Christmas season!
We probably all have difficult relationships to navigate, and the holiday season can bring out the worst in folks! I know it is hard to believe – but sometimes we are being the difficult one! I want to share some thoughts and empowering verses of Scripture that continue to help me!
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 32:18
It is God’s desire that we coexist with peace – we thrive where peace abounds, and can enjoy true rest.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
With God’s help, we can determine in our hearts to live at peace. How do we do that when people seem to be determined to “rock our boat”? We disconnect ourselves from their toxic behavior, by following the steps offered in the previous post. When we really think about it – a person can only irritate us when we let them. Remember it is “with God’s help” that we can do this! I am guessing that you are just like me – and can get yourself in trouble when you take matters and relationships into your own hands! As we lean into and onto Christ for our strength even the impossible is possible – trust Him!
Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7
Jesus cares about everything that concerns you and me! Just like you would cast a fishing net out over the water – we are to case our cares out away from us – onto Jesus. Another illustration would be to “roll” something that is heavy onto stronger shoulders. When you take the necessary action of giving your cares and concerns to Jesus, peace will fill your home and your heart!
Relationships – Preparing your heart for your guests can be more challenging than preparing a place for them to sleep! Even if you do not have guests staying in your home, spending extended time with friends and family, can sometimes be stressful. Here are some steps that you can take to strengthen relationships this Christmas.
– Ask the Lord to show you something good in the people that challenge you, and choose to focus your thoughts on the good.
– Ask questions to find out things you did not know about others, to see them in a different light. This is also a great way to direct the conversation away from negativity.
– Plan ahead to do something you both would enjoy, taking your attention away from your differences.
– Change the subject if the conversation is going somewhere it shouldn’t.
– Agree to disagree; be willing to accept that not everyone thinks the same way!
– Encouraging words will bring peace along with them.
– Determine to speak positively about the individuals that challenge you. This will eventually turn your heart around.
– Pray for them, it is hard to continue to be angry with someone you pray for.
– Offer forgiveness to anyone that has offended you; it is the best gift you could ever give!
For some encouraging thoughts and Scriptures that will encourage you to have healthy relationships go to my web site: www.suemwilson.com
If you are the guest – do yourself a favor and pack light. You can wear clothing items more than once, just change up shirts etc. Be flexible – your accommodations may not be 5 star – keep your expectations in check! Don’t let anything hinder your time together:) If you are staying for more than a few days – why not treat your host to dinner out or prepare dinner. You might want to ask: would you mind if I – do a load of laundry – rent a movie for us all to watch – prepared dinner for us (remember to bring your favorite recipe) – take you out to dinner – help you bake, cook, wrap any last minute gifts? ETC. Be the guest you would love to have!
Guests – Are they coming to your house – or are you going to be one? A little planning can make their visit more fun and less stressful. Decide where you are going to put them! If you have an actual guest room – this will be easier for you, if you don’t, extending a child’s room or office will be a great place! You might want to consider some ideas I share in the Bedroom chapter of Home Matters (the book) concerning guests. Make some room for their clothes and suitcase, snacks in a bowl or basket will be appreciated (so they won’t have to go foraging) , provide a place where they can easily charge their cell phone and lap top (a power strip works great), a night light to make navigating unfamiliar territory easier, leave room on the night stand for their items too. It is also considerate and helpful to you to let them know your meal plans – like “help yourself to breakfast and lunch” (show them where their food choices are) and when/where you plan on eating dinner together. If you are going to be a guest – check out the post “a little more on day four.
Reality check: most of us have too much stuff already – and really don’t need another gadget to try to cram into the hall closet! My current season in life with our growing extended family, has allowed me to discover something – they all like “green” – and that makes gift giving easy. Our adult children and their children and our one great granddaughter receive $ from us. As our family has expanded we have had to adjust the amount given to each one. With this simple approach I can honestly say that my shopping is done! Sometimes for the children I choose to buy them a gift – but that is only if I find something they can use – no pressure here – because I have a backup plan – cash $.
Perhaps a trip would be a great gift for your family, homemade items (cookies please), or blessing another family. Our daughter and her family gave goats to an African village one year! If you have NO JOY in buying gifts this year for your entire family – perhaps some of your family feels the same way. Even if they don’t, why not “bite the bullet” and make some changes – my guess is everyone will be relieved! My kiddos, while they were at home enjoyed their stockings the most – and that was easy:) Please share any ideas to make gift giving easier and more fun – and how you curtailed the spending frenzy by commenting below on “day 3”.
Gifts – most of us like to receive them and some of us like to buy them – when our list is reasonable and not too long! If money is tight (even if it isn’t) it’s a great plan to budget what you are going to spend, and how you are going to pay for it! Make plans right now and you won’t have that “sinking” feeling when your credit card bill comes, or you see a lower check account balance than you expected!
It’s best to compile your list(s) where you can easily find them! Scraps of paper are too easy to lose, so are the backs of used envelopes! Using a spiral type notebook works well – select a size that you can slip into your purse. A bright colored notebook is easier to spot too! A clip board with an attached tablet of paper also works great! I have started compiling my lists on my phone. I can add or check off items on the spot because I always have my phone with me.
Lists – when I can get everything out of my head and on to a list I can actually feel my “stress level” going down! I like to make my lists in pencil, so I can easily erase things. Erasing is exhilarating as I remove things from my list that I decide I really don’t want to do! It is much easier to “move furniture” on paper that using your back – so to speak! I do like to check things off too, when they are what I want to do, and they are completed. Suggested lists: activities that your family has decided to participate in this year, activities that you want to host, cookies you want to make, gifts you want to give etc. I think you get the idea as you see the words “you want to” – this is the key to a less STRESSED Christmas! It really doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing! Tailor your festivities to fit your family and the season of life that you are in right now; there will be other Christmases to do other activities (or not) it’s up to YOU:)! Don’t forget to check out “Day One” in case you missed it!
Looking back, I remember how I exhausted I felt trying to make each Christmas more wonderful than the previous one. It was quite a juggling act to accomplish all that I thought I needed to do! I would mark several things off my “to do” list, and then add more than I just marked off! When what meant the most to some of my family, was as simple as going Christmas caroling with friends, or watching Christmas movies with a cup of hot chocolate in their hands. I didn’t know, because I did not think to ask! How much easier and enjoyable our Christmas season could have been. I never – ever – thought about what I really liked to do either. I just – did it all – as quickly as I could – and then crashed by the time Christmas Eve rolled in.
Less really can be best – especially when you are participating in what your family members really enjoy doing! I hope this week is one that holds discovery and confirmation on what you want to participate in this Christmas season. If you are willing please share some of your family’s favorites in a comment below here on day one.
Here are some suggestions to have family members rate: decorating, baking cookies, buying/making gifts for others, watching Christmas movies (or going to the movies as a family), Christmas caroling, giving gifts to less fortunate friend or family, writing a family Christmas letter, viewing Christmas lights, ice skating…