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Whatever happened to the quaint, “Little House on the Prairie” days, when Ma baked homemade bread while Pa played the fiddle and the kids ate oranges from their Christmas stockings?
Of course, realistically, Ma probably had to get up before dawn to grind the flour, and Pa probably had to trudge into the freezing cold to chop wood. On top of that, the children most likely fought over the one cornhusk doll they had to share…
Is there really anything new under the sun?
Unique personalities, unusual circumstances, and unexpected issues can turn even the most anticipated holiday gatherings into a time of “flour grinding” stress and exhaustion.
This Holiday Season, let’s do more than just “survive.” Let’s purpose to enjoy every single moment. Think it can’t be done? Sure it can! I know I’m determined to make it happen and I hope these tips will encourage you as well.
Tip #1: Set Boundaries and Respect Boundaries
We must give ourselves permission to let our “yes be yes,” and our “no be no,” while allowing others to do the same. Setting healthy boundaries is a huge step in actually enjoying time with our loved ones. Not sure what a healthy boundary is? Author Whitney Hopler says this:
“Ask God to help you identify specific negative attitudes and behaviors in your life that are contributing to a lack of boundaries and the resulting stress. Then decide to stop your destructive patterns and pray for power from the Holy Spirit to each day to replace your unhealthy attitudes and behaviors with healthy ones. Don’t waste time or energy anymore on trying to get the other people in your life to change; that will never work. Instead, focus on simply changing yourself, with God’s help.” (You can read the entire article here.)
Well said, huh?
So, if Cousin Ralphie doesn’t want to play board games, he doesn’t have to. And if you want to order pizza instead of making a fancy dinner, you go girl! Setting personal boundaries, in a kind and loving manner, will go a long way towards a healthy and enjoyable gathering.
Tip #2: Throw Your Head Back and Laugh
Most of us take ourselves far too seriously, don’t we? If we could just learn to throw our heads back and laugh, we might come to realize that some of the family drama isn’t as stressful as we think.
Try it and see. The next time Aunt Betty complains about the mashed potatoes being lumpy, just nod your head, give her a big smile, and let it go. (Think Frozen theme song!)
Yes, there are certain family dynamics that should be taken seriously, but most minor irritations can be dealt with by not dwelling on them and even laughing them off.
Tip #3: Redeem the Time
As we gather together this year, let’s be intentional about thanking God for each and every person around the table. We aren’t promised tomorrow, next month, or next year. So, let’s redeem the time and value each moment.
Consider keeping a holiday journal this year. Every evening, jot down a few sentences that highlight the good things that happened that day. You may realize that the good memories far outweigh the bad.
Truly, we don’t have to trudge through the holidays with a “gotta-get-through-this” mentality. It is possible to enjoy our loved ones—really enjoy them! Perhaps, a good perspective to have, would be that of the early believers, who broke bread together with one heart and one mind.
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:46-47 NKJV)
Even though some of our loved ones may not be Christians, we can carry the Acts 2 perspective with us and enter the holiday season with gladness and simplicity of heart. Don’t you love that?
Gladness and simplicity of heart…sounds like a recipe for enjoyable holidays to me!
I cannot tell you how glad I am that I don’t have to wake up before dawn to grind flour. I’m quite content with my orange cinnamon rolls that come out of the can—and I’m equally glad that my husband doesn’t play the fiddle!
Have a terrific holiday season this year. You can do it. Just remember to laugh a little, set your boundaries, and redeem those precious moments…one sweet gathering at a time.
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com.
Jennifer Waddle is best known for words of encouragement as an Author, Speaker and Musician for Women’s Ministry. She currently has three published books on Amazon and is a regular contributor for WomensMinistryTools.com and GotQuestions.org. Jennifer is committed to sharing authentic messages of hope to women of all walks of life. She loves being a wife of 24 years, mom of four, and nana of two. Most of all, she cherishes her time spent in the Word of God, with a cup of coffee and a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. Contact Jennifer here: www.jenniferwaddleonline.com or [email protected]