Stress or real joy during the Holidays…You choose.

Statistics tell us that the holidays are the most stressful time of the year.  Domestic abuse is up, child abuse is up, drinking, drugs, and related problems rise dramatically during the holidays.  Financial problems increase as people attempt to create a false sense of joy by buying gifts they can’t afford while eating, drinking and making merry.  Physically, weight rises, body image suffers, health declines, suicides increase. Over this one month of the year, more people suffer both psychologically and physically than any other time.

What can we learn from this?  Perhaps we have lost track of what the holidays are really about…loving one another, remembering Christ’s birth and what that means to us in terms of our personal salvation, living a life of generosity, service and kindness, and remembering and honoring the gift of the first Thanksgiving when  American Indians exercised their traditional beliefs by providing food for the Pilgrims and thus saving their lives.

Perhaps it is to remind us to live within our means.  It isn’t how many toys you have, it is the quality of your life.  The quality is happiness from being stress free and content with your life.  It is not having to worry about how you will pay your mortgage or your car payment.  It isn’t about being house poor or car poor.  It is about spending time with family and enjoying that time.  It is about helping out people less fortunate and about saving for a rainy day.  It is about having a back up plan B for emergencies.  It is about not having to look over your shoulder and worrying about what’s coming up behind.  It’s about living a life of integrity, honor, self-respect and honesty. Eat healthy and sparingly despite the tendency to over due at this time of year.

The holidays are about living your beliefs every day, not just on Sunday.  It is about loving even the unlovable.  It is about tolerance without sacrificing your beliefs.  It is about taking responsibility for your choices.  It is about teaching our children these same character building principles and teaching them by example.  It is about continuing to love those who disappoint us…disliking the sin but loving the sinner.  It is about forgiveness for even those who have hurt us.  It is about being grateful for what we have even while striving for a better life.  It is about loving ourselves as much as we love others and teaching others how to treat us.  It is about standing for something and not being afraid to stand alone against great odds.  (Standing for something does not mean the end justifies the end.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you).

With the New Year looming, this is a perfect time to evaluate our life choices and perhaps change directions.  It is a perfect time to put a stop on our spending.  It is a time to save more.  I is a time for ending the battle of trying to keep up with the Jones’s.  The Jones’s are in debt up to their ears and aren’t all that happy.  What good is wealth if you don’t have your health.  And what good is it if your lifestyle choices are killing not just your body, but our soul?  What good is a fancy house that takes two incomes just to pay the payments, if you can’t afford to furnish it and can’t get out and do things because all your income is tied to your debts?  What good is any of it if you never see your children and miss out on all the fun of seeing them grow up?   Perhaps it is time to downsize and get out from under the huge debt load.

Don’t let next Christmas catch you in the same old place.  Put away a Christmas fund so the crunch is not so bad come Christmas. Make a list of things that you really want to purchase for next Christmas and take advantage of the sales through out the year.  Make sure you remember those less fortunate.  The Salvation Army is always in need…pick up an angel from the Angel Tree and make some child happy next Christmas.  There are endless ways of giving all year. Pick up your goodies for next year’s tree and stockings after New Years.  They are dirt cheap.  Help your children plan a holiday project so they can feel the joy of service and giving.

This Christmas was just like all the rest.  Next year I want it to be a completely new experience.  How about you?


~ by womenstudycenter on December 28, 2009.

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