Take the ‘Rat’ out of Christmas

Brenda Schimke
ECA Review Journalist

Feeling the stress, or enjoying the moment?  Spending what we can afford or racking up credit cards?  Keeping up with the Jones’ or doing what is right for us and our family?   Expecting family peace during Christmas when standard fare is family discord?  Demanding our “traditions” be met and not respecting others?
Are we doing the Martha Stewart home? Are we baking up a storm even though each year fewer goodies are eaten?
Do we entertain more than we want?  Does our food and treats have to be presented just so?

Have we gotten into the habit of buying more than one present for each of our children, plus full stockings?  Do we buy teachers and pastors and our paper deliverer presents?  Does our family all buy new outfits for Christmas yet our closets are stuffed?
Christmas is not about stuff or indebtedness.  It’s about faith, family and selfless acts of kindness.
It’s giving time to an elderly person who is housebound.  It’s sending money to the poor overseas or those in our own backyard.  It’s giving of our abilities–shoveling our neighbour’s walk, helping out at the food bank, inviting those without families close by for Christmas dinner.  It’s a smile rather than rudeness to a stressed store clerk or patience rather than aggression in a crowded mall parking lot. It’s about not endangering others by driving recklessly or under the influence.
It’s about writing Christmas letters and forwarding family pictures to friends and families to keep distant relationships alive.
Do we even remember what stuff we got last Christmas and from whom? How long do our children play with their gifts before they are dispatched to the junk heap?  How many days is it before we’re back in the stores shopping for stuff?
Do we or family members hate the Christmas season or the post-Christmas hangover?
If the answer is “yes”, it’s time to push the pause button on the Christmas “rat race” and re-set our priorities.
Try it!
Lowering expectations and doing less during December and the Christmas season is a liberating experience.  It really doesn’t matter that “we’ve always done it that way.” Make a new tradition . . . a simplified tradition . . . a tradition free of stress.
Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who was born in a humble manger in Bethlehem.  It was never intended to be a rat race.
Take the rat out of Christmas this year.
Put Jesus and simplicity back into Christmas, and you will find hope, peace and joy—guaranteed!

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