The holiday season often brings out the best in people. It's a time when we display more compassion and generosity. It can also be a time that causes the most stress as we seek to find the "perfect" gift from our list comprised of family members, the "secret Santa" holiday company event, best friends, organizations, club membership acquaintances, mail carrier... the family pet...the list goes on! Not to mention getting all the decorations up, all the baking done, attending holiday functions, etc...So then, how do you balance it all- maintaining your sanity, peace and avoiding a negative balance in the account, during a time that is recognized as a celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ? Here are some steps to having a Good (virtuous) holiday season.
Luke 6:38 (NLT)
- Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
Giving is often attached to a monetary value; giving can occur in so many different ways. Some examples would include contacting your local shelters and donating items that you would still use - tucked away neatly in your space-saver bag. Get your children involved as well; make holiday cards and speak with administrators of your local Children's hospital to visit and leave a card for a child; Visit an assisted living facility to read an encouraging scripture. By giving to others, you gain a return as well - feeling of happiness that you were able to make a difference (no matter how great or small) in someone else's life. God gave to us -- we should be willing to give to others!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
- Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
In the midst of every situation, give thanks! Find a reason to smile or laugh. Even when that person pretends to not see you in line or the cashier is not in a "festive" mood at Wal-Mart. Studies have shown that smiling can create feelings of happiness, helps to reduce stress and is one of the simple pleasures of life. Think of how much an infant smiles. When you have to take your little bundle of joy to his 3 month wellness check and shots have been ordered by the pediatrician, it is one the most hurtful thing to witness. But once the appointment has ended, he sees your face, words of comfort, and warm embrace. He's then able to communicate to you, through his smile, that he appreciates your security. Remember, a celebration of the birth of Christ and giving of thanks is designated on the calendar, during this time of year. However, you don't have to wait until the holiday season to celebrate. In the midst of it all...smile; a genuine smile can create a memory for a lifetime.
3. Be Grateful
Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
- Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
When that child approaches you with a list of misspelled toys, it's so easy to acquire feelings of disappointment (being unable to fulfill the request). Self-reflect. Remember how far you've come and celebrate the victories you may consider small. No victory should be defined as small, because it means that you've overcome SOMETHING. Your situation could be just a little worse. Think about this- your family all returned from various destinations to a place you all call home, you returned to a home still standing firm on the foundation it was laid (no occurrence of any natural disaster), you have a job to pay for necessities, and you have the ability to utilize your senses to see the sun set, moon rise and change of season. These are the benefits of life that are often overlooked with an ungrateful heart. By being grateful for where you are and progress made, how can you strive for better and a more promising future?
Romans 12:20-21 (NLT)
- Instead, if your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads. Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
So many variables can lead to an erupting volcano of emotions...someone cut you off on the road, someone responded to your question in a disrespectful tone, or you just don't feel like dealing with the crowds this year. Remember it's not what someone says to you but how you respond, knowing who you represent (Jesus Christ). The easiest thing is to react in the same tone. But what if you're that only ray of hope that person will meet before they receive not-so good news? Consider what you will say before you say it. A soft-kind answer turns away anger but harsh and angry words can sometimes create violent conflict. You don't want to be the next Channel 6 breaking news story- being caught on tape in an altercation in front of Toys R' Us. Somehow fame on that level doesn't seem appealing.
5. Set a Goal
Luke 14:28 (NLT)
- But don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?
Credit card companies and loan offices have a giving heart during this time of year as well. Unfortunately, it's accompanied with INTEREST. Set goals and remain in your budget. You'll be able to enjoy entering the New Year more peacefully, not having to think about paying off the bills just created. If your heart is still a little saddened about just not being able to get those specific gifts -- here's a thought. Open a Christmas account at your current financial. Place $5, $10 or $20 weekly (based on your budget), starting this season, so next season you can cross off your list and check it twice. You'd be surprised how quickly your deposits (with interest) add up in a year's time.
It is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Yes...it can be and keeping these key points in mind can lead to a wonderful start to the year ahead.
Kimberly R. Lock
Kimberly R. Lock is the author of Who You Callin' Silly? How a Silly Woman Becomes Virtuous. She assists her husband in the business aspects of running Unity Gospel House of Prayer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You are invited to join the author and other once silly, now virtuous women at www.WhoYouCallinSilly.com .
Who You Callin' Silly
How Silly Women Become Virtous
Author: Kimberly R. Lock
$2.99 Nook Book