Christmastime is stressful and depending on our personalities and the circumstances we just might “magically” turn into someone other than our usual charming selves!  You might feel like your honey transformed into Mr. or Mrs. Clause, like Tim Allen in The Santa Clause, and s/he now has a mission to give presents to the entire known world. Or perhaps you feel like a trapped Who in Whoville while your spouse becomes the Grinch for Christmas and zaps the joy out of the celebrations. Or maybe you feel like your wife turns into a real-life version of Frosty the snow-woman and has a melt-down at every holiday impasse. Confession--I’ve been Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and a very melty Frosty-the-snow-girl! Here’s a little perspective, levity and inspiration for the “most wonderful time of the year”:

The Mr. (or Mrs.) Claus syndrome

Do you or your spouse feel the need to get gifts for, what feels like, the entire known universe? If so, find out why. I know a dear sister who felt like she wasn’t good at saying the right things, her schedule was full so she wasn’t good at being there for people and so buying presents was the way she felt she was best able to say “I was thinking about you and I love you!” I’m terrible at remembering birthdays, but love giving gifts, so for the major holidays I really like to give presents/cards to all our friends, church workers and often try to include neighbors (with a little tract or Bible verse).  Maybe you become Mr/Mrs Claus because your season/station of life seems to initiate it. Maybe it’s because you feel the social pressure to reciprocate. Maybe you really need other people to like you. If you aren’t giving without strings attached, pray about reassessing the stress that taking on Santa’s list brings to you and your family. Perhaps this would be a good year to re-prioritize. 

If you/your spouse’s giving stems from true generosity, then I think it’s a wonderful, joyful thing to give. The Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7. Try these sanity saving tips:

  • get a plan for the finances that both you and your spouse agree on before the shopping begins
  • consider shopping sales throughout the year to save money (I love to give gifts and shop the after season sales to afford all the fun of giving.)
  • put a set amount of money for each family member on a giftcard and only take that with you when you go shopping so that you can avoid the temptation of using a credit card or racking up overcharges on a debit card.
  • make gifts and cards—a personal touch can go a long way and mean a lot to someone!
  • realize that bigger isn’t always better. I always love just knowing someone thought of me—the size or cost isn’t what I appreciate most. 
  • pray before you spend! My husband and I have gotten in the habit of praying a quick prayer before we go into a store, committing our path to Him and asking God for wisdom, guidance and frugality. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).

The Grinch

Oh! I hate it when I become the Grinch! It’s rotten place to be! When I’m the Grinch it’s usually because I feel too tired or feel suddenly worried about finances or time commitments. But I’ve noticed other reasons people get Grinch-y. Sometimes loss is so devastating during the holidays that we bury it under a facade of thick grumpies. I’ve also known people who felt so strongly against the historical background or commercial use of Christmas that they used their Grinch-ishness to red-flag the world of it’s wrongdoing. In any event, if you or your spouse are Grinchy during the holiday season, it’s good to try to understand why.