Over the past decade, when it comes to my holiday involvement, I have swung from one end of the pendulum to the other. I usually take on too much responsibility trying to run the holiday show all on my own but end up fantasizing about locking the front door, watching TV in sweatpants, and ordering pizza. Neither of these options are healthy or good for me and my kids.
Several family fights have taken place around the holidays and I know my family is not unique in this. When I go crazy and try to do everything myself, I end up feeling resentful toward those who “aren’t pulling their weight.'' Sometimes I ask for help, but then things get screwed up and I end up spending more time fixing it...at least this is what I tell myself because I have control issues.
The holiday season can be exciting and dreadful at the same time. I really need to find a balance between enjoying my family and creating memories while maintaining peace and not being a holiday monster.
Here are a few things I’m doing differently this year to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season:
This year, I’ve started planning ahead. I looked at my upcoming holiday and family schedule to see what I could start working on ahead of time. If there is anything I can knock out a few weeks early, then I will be that much more ahead.
Holidays can stir up old, painful feelings. Sometimes passive comments from family members can completely shut me down. Unmet expectations can ruin Christmas, If I allow it. I need to be aware of anything negative sneaking in and taking root in my soul.
I need to be proactive about my triggers. I’m going to pause and recognize when I feel a shift in my emotions. It’s easy to run from one thing to the next without mentally checking on myself. If I suddenly feel angry, sick, panicked, scatterbrained or have conversations playing on repeat in my head, I’m going to take a few minutes to breathe and ask myself what I need. Then do it. This is the hard part.
Sometimes it can be as simple as taking five minutes to sit and focus on deep breathing. Other times, I may have to go on a walk, skip an event all together, or ask my husband and kids for help.
Giving myself grace can be the hardest thing for me. It’s so easy to compare how I’m doing as a mom and wife with other women.
Am I creating enough memories and tradition?
Should I be pausing to talk about Jesus more?
Are my kids going to resent their childhood because their friends get so much more for Christmas?
Should I take the kids to feed the homeless?
Should I have fresh baked cookies on the counter when they get home from school?
IT’S ALL TOO MUCH!
My mind can go crazy with endless possibilities of things I could be doing better. I have to rein in my thoughts, spend time with God every day, and allow Him to give me the security and confidence in who He created me to be. I have to trust that He made me just the way He wanted and if I continually strive to model Christ’s love to my children then they will remember the feeling of our home. A feeling of warmth, love, and joy.
I have been working hard to heal past wounds and work through my shortcomings but it still takes time. I need to be okay with not being someone else or feeling bad about what I can or can’t do.
The more I understand grace and what God has done to heal my own brokenness, the better I am able to be with others who are also struggling. I’ve been given so much by my heavenly Father and I desperately want to be able to give to others while remaining healthy myself.
Boundaries allow us to love without depleting ourselves and our family. For me it’s a moment-by-moment journey. I want to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and I know I need to ask for help daily.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
The last thing I can do to stay out of the holiday trap is to communicate well. Not only do I need to communicate about why I’m unable to commit to something, but I need to be honest if I’m struggling.
When I don’t share what’s going on with me, I tend to become very passive-aggressive. Sighing and slamming doors so everyone understands I’m stressed and could use their help. Resenting having said “yes” when I should have said “no.” Feeling under appreciated and angry for being “the only one” who cares.
More often than not, when I communicate my needs, my family is happy to help or forego an activity.
This year I want Christmas to be more about relationships and less about the hustle and bustle. I’m going to stay focused on what matters most and avoid falling into a performance mode.
Take a deep breath. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what is important this very second.Gregory McKeown
Ashley is the International Women's Groups Coordinator for Pure Desire. She helps churches around the world develop sexual integrity groups. Ashley oversees all women Regional Groups Advisors (RGAs), is a speaker, and a contributing author to Unraveled: Managing Love, Sex, and Relationships.