Have a “Mary” Christmas (More sitting, less stressing!)

how to relieve stress over the holidays

“Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things. But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42, emphasis added).

Welcome to my world. I’m hosting Christmas for oodles of beloved family members, and the Martha in me wants to show my love by making everyone else’s Christmas perfect: Decorations? Check. Clean house? Check. Gourmet food? Check. (“Sort of. Wait. Let me run into the kitchen to prep a few things . . . I’ll be back in five hours.”)

But you know . . . the clean house, and gourmet food, and Pinterest-worthy Christmas decorations, aren’t what’s most important for our family holiday. A great holiday is about time spent together, about laughing so hard you snort egg nog through your nose, about the light of magic shining in our children’s eyes. So I hope you’ll join me in taking Jesus’ gentle words to Martha to heart this holiday season. Let’s “choose what is better.”

And what did Mary choose? She chose to be present. To be engaged. To be with—fully with—the people who had come into her home. To spend time sitting at the feet of the Lord, listening and learning. That’s what makes the holidays great. That’s what is “better.” So won’t you join me?

Let the dishes soak a little longer.

Let the pine needles rest on the carpet a little longer.

Let the meals be a little simpler.

Let’s just be there with the people—and the Lord—we love.

That, my friends, is better. That’s BEST. And Jesus will not take it away from us!

Merry Christmas to you and yours, from the Thompson Crazies! (Here’s hoping we don’t actually GO crazy.)

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10 Questions to Ask NOW to Have Your Best December Ever

how to have a stress-free Christmas

Image courtesy of Pixabay

It’s December, y’all. December!

(Let’s all take a moment to breathe into a paper bag.)

Seriously, though, I don’t know how this happened. I just got all the summer sand vacuumed out of the minivan! But ready or not, the mailbox is crammed with holiday catalogues, the Hallmark Christmas movies are marrying off princesses in disguise every night, and if your kids are like mine, they already have sugar plums dancing in their heads to the point of near insanity. Ready or not, it’s time to get ready.

So let’s talk about having a happy family life all December long… all holiday season long.

The trouble with the holidays is expectations. Your spouse or children expect one thing; you expect something entirely different—and the kicker is, you didn’t even know you expected it until it was too late. And before you know it, you’re all shouting “Fa-la-la-la-LAAAAA” at each other.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Not this year.

With a little thought and planning and discussion ahead of time—yep, that means now, before December runs away with us—our holiday season can be every bit as holly-jolly as we want it to be. Yes really. It can. This year we can have less ho-hum, more ho-ho-ho. Less stress, more peace. Less Grinch-iness, more godliness. We just have to be proactive. Intentional. Thoughtful. How do we do this? Here’s a simple way to start: Grab a cup of egg nog, set aside half an hour to think through these questions about your holiday expectations and plans, and then sit back and reap the rewards all throughout the season.

Got your egg nog? Okay, here we go.

10 questions to ask yourself, to help you have the Christmas season you WANT to have: 

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1. What is most important to you over the holidays? What are your priorities?
2. What do you want your holiday to FEEL like? (Think about words like fun, peaceful, unhurried, active, silly, relaxing, selfless, joyful, family-oriented, private, social.) Ask your spouse this question to find out if you both want the same thing—you might be surprised.
3. Who do you want to BE over the holidays? What kind of parent? Spouse? Friend? What kind of mood do you want to be in?
4. What things do you MOST want to do? Be as specific as you can. Think through all the big events and small activities. Do you want to throw a party? Go on a date with your spouse? Go shopping alone? Go out with girlfriends? Take the whole family somewhere special? Start a new tradition? Spend individual time with each of your kids?
5. What have been your favorite past holidays, and why? Is there anything you can learn from or repeat from those years to help to make this season great?
6. What are your specific hopes for your family time? Do you have certain expectations or an agenda that you didn’t realize you had?
7. What do you want your marriage to be like during the holidays?
8. What do you want your walk with God to be like over the holidays?
9. Is there anything you want to do differently than last year or previous years?
10. Okay, now get practical: What specific things do you need to do or plan or coordinate with your spouse/family in order to make these things happen?

I have used this list for the last few years to help me think and pray through my holiday season, and it makes a huge difference all season long. I feel better prepared mentally, emotionally, maritally, maternally, and calendarily (no, that’s not a word, but it should be!). (Also, I should add that nothing can prepare you for battling lice over Christmas…NOTHING. Sighhhhhhh.) Anyway, besides the Bug Incident that Shall Not Be Named, this list has helped me to be more intentional about everything, all December long. To stress less and play more. To be purposeful in how I spend my time, and to make time for the things (ahem, the people!) that mattered most. I hope these 10 holiday questions help you as much as they helped me, and here’s to our best Christmas season ever!

Read this post next: Have Yourself a Merry Married Christmas: The conversation to have with your spouse before the holidays run away with you! 

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