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reason for the season : I deal in hope

I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog Don’t let the holiday season steal your joy

The holiday season seems the perfect time for get-togethers—though this year large gatherings are discouraged. The holiday season started even before Thanksgiving, still technically autumn, though weather often indicates otherwise. All too soon Christmas arrives with New Year close behind, which brings school and church programs and, most years, family gatherings.

By the end of the holiday season, we’re are depleted physically, mentally, emotionally– and financially. Time to stop and ask, “What am I doing? Did I even try to say, ‘No!’ to some events I really didn’t need to attend? What did I gain for all my efforts?” Even though the urge to get out may not be as pressing this year, there are still places to go and gifts to buy, Christmas letters to write. Even searching for gifts online takes time effort and money.

Before we exhaust ourselves we need to ask, “Were friendships begun or deepened? Were family ties strengthened or simply frazzled by the time restraints, rush and tension? Did I take time to spend time with my spouse, my children? Did I take time for friends? Did I take time to worship the very One we’re supposed to be celebrating? How often in the mindless hustle and bustle, did I consider what others really needed? That might be time, not stress, tension and gifts quickly discarded and forgotten.

In the end, when we stress out about events and shopping and gifts we end up overwhelmed and a little resentful—though we bring it on ourselves. Do we resent time spent gift shopping for things most do not need or want, gifts that kids, especially, would abandon to play with the boxes those expensive toys were in. Why? Pride, status, being a good person, parent, friend? How foolish!

True, there is pleasure in connecting with friends or family not seen in a while, and I love exchanging greetings with those from far away and catching up with each others’ lives. There is also the love that goes into just the right gift for someone special. But just-right gifts don’t have to be expensive to share your love and care. In fact, spending more than you can afford actually takes away the joy of your find–especially once the bill arrives. Gifts are no substitute for personal contact even if that is by phone, video, Zoom, etc.

Instead of rushing headlong into the season, stop. Take stock of your finances, commitments and time and plan accordingly, leaving time to breathe. Take time to consider the true meaning of the season–Jesus. Jesus came in the quiet of the night.

This year, let’s spend less time hurrying and worrying. Let’s spend within a budget and give priority to family–and to worshiping Christ the Savior who came to bring joy and life to all who bow not just at the manger, but also at the cross.

Most of all, choose to slow down, listen for God’s direction, and share His love with those around you. If He can sustain us the rest of the year, surely He can sustain us during the hectic holiday season—if we let Him. It is remembering that it is in giving, not in frantic activity, we will come to know the true joy of the season.

(C) 2020 Carolyn R Scheidies
Scheidies’ Column Published in the Kearney Hub 12/21/2020

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