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Are You Married to The Grinch?

  • April Motl Contributor
  • 2012 17 Dec
Are You Married to The Grinch?

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. 

Try asking your spouse the following questions:

  • Is there one thing you like about Christmas/New Year’s that we could make sure to plan for?
  • Is there one thing you really don’t like about the way we observe Christmas that we could change to please you?
  • Is there something that worries or troubles you during this time of year that we could manage differently so it wouldn’t weigh so heavy on you?
  • lastly, pray for your honey to have joy from the Lord, and ask God to show you how to be a blessing to him/her. “These things I [Jesus] have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). Pray for them to find fullness of joy in the Lord now and always.

If you are the Grinchy spouse, ask the Lord for His grace, patience and love! 

Frosty & the-melt-down syndrome

Melt downs come when we are overloaded. It’s like gravity! Re-prioritizing is simply a must! None of us can do everything and we need to let ourselves off the hook. Check why your doing what you’re doing and make sure you’re doing what is pleasing to the Lord. If you’re spending precious energy and resources doing something less than His best, cut it out of your life. Lean into the wisdom of your husband and ask him to help you filter through some of the unnecessary things on your to-do list. My husband has always been most insightful and supportive in this. Proverbs 25:28 says: Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit. We are vulnerable, weak and poor witnesses when we lose control over our own hearts...a battle we all lose from time to time. But how much happier our families will be and how much stronger our witness if we guard our spirit from becoming too overwhelmed by exercising wisdom and prudence over our commitments. 

Ask yourself:

  • Am I the only one who can do this task? Recently I got my arm twisted pretty good to help with a worthy Christmas cause. I knew the planning and preparation hadn’t been put into it and now the sister wanted me to fill in her gaps. My husband and I had already been over what more we could fit into the schedule and I knew he didn’t want me to add one more responsibility.  I had to tell her no...and say it repeatedly...and I hate to say it once, let alone multiple times! But I wasn’t the only one who could do the task and the sort of people who would best fit the job were the ones who needed a place to feel needed. Sometimes you have to say “no” even when it makes you feel badly because there are other responsibilities you can’t say “no” to!
  • Does this glorify God? If you are any where close to a tearful meltdown, look over your to-do list and highlight the God glorifying tasks. Make those your top priority. Even if making gift bags for the homeless, a cookie plate with a tract for all your neighbors, and organizing the carolers for the senior citizen’s home seem like good, God-honoring activities, they won’t bring Him praise if your witness is all pulled apart at the seams with an upset you or and upset family. 
  • Take care of your tank! Make sure you aren’t getting so wrapped up in the season that you don’t miss being healthy spiritually and physically. Fill up your tank with good things. Eat well, sleep well, read well, and pray well! Martin Luther is remembered for saying, “I have so much to do today I am going to have to spend an extra hour in prayer!” 

May your celebrations this season be filled with the sweetness of the Lord’s presence and joy from Him!

April Motl is a pastor’s wife who serves along side her husband, Eric, at their church in Southern California. For more information about their ministry visit You can also follow their ministry on facebook, twitter and April’s crosswalk blog.

Publication date: December 17, 2012

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