The Cure for Holiday Stress

Ah the Holidays…. Time for food and fun and of course- family. This can raise all kinds of emotions depending on your family sketch.
Personally, I’ve got two parents, two step parents, two brothers, two half  sisters, one step sister, two sisters in law, two half brothers in law, four nephews, four nieces, one husband, one step son and (sing it with me)…  A par- tridge in a pear tree.
Ok the partridge isn’t in the family. But it feels like he belongs on the list.

And the list doesn’t even include the family I married into. Time and brokenness and new starts and new babies and grafted in children have made our family tree look a whole lot more like a family bush. Maybe you can relate.

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(This isn’t really my family but its about the right number of people)

It didn’t start out that way. I can think back to simpler times when we ate around a single Norman Rockwell table, and holiday stress (if there was any) belonged to our parents.

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving
Now we’re the parents. (Or step parents, or aunts or uncles or distant relatives of children somewhere.) You get the idea.
So putting on the holidays has been passed to us- as we juggle the shopping and baking and performances and parties and immediate family and extended family and (oh yeah) going to church to remember why we’re doing all this.

Maybe the reason for the season needs to be revisited as we embark on all this craziness. Maybe it will even change the craziness. Or at the very least, change us in the craziness.
Sometimes all it takes is a pause.
A WHAT?
You heard it. A pause.
In the middle of the baking and wrapping and decorating and party attending and last minute shopping (complete with the swear words under your breath that often accompany last minute shopping)  JUST STOP.

Right where you are. Look around.
Catch the delight on a baby’s face looking over his mother’s shoulder at all the beautiful lights and taking in the fact that something really special is going on.

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Notice the person next to you in line who may have just lost a loved one and is quietly wondering how they’ll make it through Christmas. Say something nice to them (instead of just trying to beat them to the front).

Smile at that homeless person you normally avoid looking at when you’re on your way out of the store.

And while you’re doing these things, Tune in.

Somewhere in the midst of your Christmas errands you’ve probably noticed a change in the background music. Normal pop tunes like Wrecking Ball have magically morphed into Silent Night. (Thank you Jesus).

For one short window of time the shopping mall music has become something not just to tolerate, but to hear.
So hear it.
Not just the songs about Santa and Rudolph and Frosty.
The other ones about the Round yon virgin.  The stars brightly shining. The angels heard on high.

All because a baby was born.

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed.
(Maybe that homeless person understands a little something about the Christmas story that you don’t.)
And quite possibly, that baby you saw has a better grip on the spirit of the season than you do.

But it’s not too late.
The miracle story of God visiting this planet in a tiny baby is all around us waiting to be heard. Waiting to be seen.
So let’s not get so busy shopping and stressing and dealing with the family bush and continuously stuffing our schedules that we miss it.
Pause.

Be still.
See the joy.
Hear the music.
Let God break through.

Your family bush may even thank you. Because there will be a better you joining them this Christmas.