Christmas: the most wonder{stress}ful time of the year!

Rule 1 of church attending: Never ever, ever, ever skip potluck day. It’s way too delicious to miss. (Can I get an amen?)

A few weeks ago, some young couple friends of ours broke this rule. They skipped the brunch potluck we had during class and came straight to the worship service afterwards. I saw them across the room and walked over to give them a hard time. “Skipping, on POTLUCK DAY? What were you thinking?!” I said. My friend laughed and said, “I know…we knew it was a brunch today, but we couldn’t afford to bring anything so we just stayed home!”

The part of the conversation that caught me most off-guard wasn’t that they couldn’t afford to pick up some donuts or a fruit tray (been there many-a-time), it was that her answer surprised me. I didn’t see it coming. We were those people like 3 seconds ago and I’ve already forgotten that something fun like potluck day can be a burden for some people.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this – and them – as we get full-fledged into Christmas season. Party after party, gift exchange after gift exchange.

As much as I love this time of year, it’s kind of…stressful.

We just celebrated a season of thankfulness, now we celebrate a season of giving. Of the ultimate gift. It sounds so wonderful in theory.

…but then we start off the season by trampling a few folks on Black Friday, and follow that up with a flurry of overlapping travel schedules, the time with that extended family member everyone dreads seeing, the 27 holiday parties, the gift buying, the gift opening (complete with the feigned adoration over yet another knitted cat sweater)…it’s exhausting. And it’s kind of a financial nightmare.

The stress of it all is really sad. The celebration of a baby born in a manger – simplest, lowliest birth in all of history – has turned into a frenzy of elves on shelves and fighting over $3 frying pans.

So.

This season, in addition to focusing on the real story of Christmas (which is Jesus, not Santa, people of the human race), I want to remember these 2 simple things:

1. Christmas is not a joyous time for everyone.

As much as we all enjoy giving and receiving gifts, the families who have a hard time providing dinner for their kids during a normal week can hardly breathe at the thought of buying the latest-and-greatest toys for their kids at Christmas.

As much as we love being around family, this is the first holiday season without a loved one for many people around the world. I just saw an Instagram picture from my friend Michael and his wife Emery who took their infant baby boy to his older brother’s graveside today. His older brother, Titus, died suddenly last Christmas when he was 2 days old.

As much as we love the parties and wassail, many people around us don’t have a community where they belong. They don’t have people to share the season with. Despite their twinkly and festive surroundings, their homes are lonely and quiet.

2. Christmas is not about buying gifts.

Yes, everyone loves a good present and, yes, Christmas is a season of giving, but not all presents require money. We can give our time. We can give our creativity. We can give our words. We can give ourselves.

So here’s an idea. A small way to remember that Christmas isn’t joyous for everyone and that it isn’t about spending money on gifts.

For the past 3 years our family has done “Blessingmas”, a time of the season (with a terrible name) where we spend an afternoon baking treats for our neighbors – the ones we know, the ones we don’t. It’s a way for us to stop the frenzy and just take time doing something nice for someone else. It sounds simple (even stupid, maybe), but it’s important to us. It’s building community. It’s restoring simplicity. (And it’s like $5 total.)

I solicited my friends and family to participate in Blessingmas with their own families last year and it was so fun. (Full petition and a printable note in this little link right here.)

Here’s a small sampling of what everyone did:

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People all across America taking a day to bless those around them. People they – gasp! – didn’t even know.

It’s less about baked goods and more about saying, “Hey. I care about you enough to spend time doing this for you in the midst of this horribly stressful and frantic wonderful time of the year.”

Sometimes little acts of unexpected love speak louder than a new Xbox One (k might be a toss-up in that example but you get the point), and you never know what relationships can begin over a loaf of chocolate chip banana bread. Our next door neighbors have become some of our favorite people – but that friendship had to start small. Like, mini loaf of bread at Christmas last year small.

We just made our Neighborly Blessingmas Revolution deliveries this year:

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and I invite you to join us in your own neighborhoods this year.

Regardless, let’s all just take a breather. Get out and meet the neighbors. Give time and energy reminding those around us of what Christmas is about. Encourage those who are struggling this season.

Let’s make this year a little less Stressmasy and a little more…Blessmasy. Haha..hah…ha. (Yes, I hate myself a little for that one.)

blessingmas


{psssst. If you participate in Blessingmas in some form or fashion, post a pic and tag it (I feel a #blessingmas2013 coming on…or something) so we can celebrate together.
Double pssst. If you want to do something like this but panic at what to say in the note, print and use this card. Easy Peasy.Blessingmas CardDownload from dropbox here.}

One thought on “Christmas: the most wonder{stress}ful time of the year!

  1. Adrienne Applewhite

    You are such a talented writer. But, more importantly.. The gravity of the words you write- inspiring, touching and often humbling.

     
    Reply

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