Beware the Christmas Joy Stealer
- Wednesday, December 01, 2004
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I was asked once again this year to write an article on how to have a stress-free Christmas. The week before I was asked, I had finished several different Christmas magazines. Some were as far back as the early 1900's and some as recent as last Christmas. I had to chuckle because they all had the same reoccurring theme -- you got it -- how to have a stress-free Christmas.
My first thought was "Are there any new ideas left?" followed by "Is it even possible to have a stress-free Christmas?"
After writing several lists "How to have less stress in gift giving", "How to have less stress with Christmas activities" and "How to have less stress baking," I found one underlying thing causing stress in every area - guilt. We feel guilty if we can't make it to all the activities, or were late for one activity because we were late getting away from another. Of course what about the guilt of making sure we start ten new family traditions -- Heaven forbid we don't do that! Our children will grow up to be complete misfits with no warm, fuzzy childhood memories. To relieve you of some pressure, that is a myth.
I decorated every corner of my home. I decorated the outside of the house so much that the traffic would be backed up for blocks with people slowly going by to look at our lights. I would bake anywhere from two to three thousand (no, that's not a type-o) gingerbread men a year and my Christmas dinner would put a Norman Rockwell painting to shame. But after all those years of loving traditions that I made for my children, there are only 2 things that they consider traditions: my red Jell-o salad and reading the Christmas story every year. Neither of those things took a lot of time, energy or money to do. There were some years, because of tight finances or illness, we couldn't have "A Child's Perfect Christmas" but we had our red Jell-o salad and read the Christmas story and still had a great Christmas.
The latest catch phrase for Christmas is "Don't forget the reason for the Season." I've never been able to understand that because Christians and non-Christians alike can't help but remember why we have Christmas. I see Nativity Scenes everywhere and every other Christmas carol played talks about Christ's birth. I think because Satan hasn't been able to make us forget, he has come up with another plan of attack - guilt. If he can make us feel guilty he can rob us of all the joy and peace we should be feeling at this special time of year.
Don't let him do it. In the same way you lock and bar your windows and doors to protect your family and material possessions from robbers you need to actively protect your family from having their peace and joy taken from them through guilt and stress. You wouldn't leave your door wide open at night - of course not. But every time you feel guilty just imagine yourself opening a door and saying "Welcome Satan, -- There's my joy and peace over there. My spouse's peace is in that room and my children's joy is over there. Help yourself."
So the next time you can't afford the most expensive gift, you can't make it to every activity, and you have to serve store-bought cookies just say "So what. I did the best I could." You can sit back and relax with a great feeling of security because your doors are locked and barred against guilt.
You really will have a Merry Christmas!
Jill Cooper raised two teenagers alone on $500 a month income after becoming disabled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She is the inspiration behind her daughter Tawra's frugal cookbook Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites. To read more of Jill's articles and for free tips and recipes visit http://www.LivingOnADime.com/ .
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