The Stress of Christmas

I took a blogging break for the holidays. Not because I need a break from writing, per se, but because the holidays stress me out. Add to my holiday stress level the fact that my family gets a little annoyed lately over my blogging in the evenings, and the easiest thing to let go of for a few days to help keep my sanity in tact was my writing.

This daily writing I do is good for me. I know some of you roll your eyes as you read some days. I know some of you question why I waste my time writing a “blog” instead of something productive. I also know that most of those someone I just mentioned aren’t reading.

I needed to buy back the time though to deal with the last minute holiday stuff. You know, wrapping gifts, planning menus, grocery shopping, finalizing some mission project stuff, finally filling out my Christmas cards (I still haven’t mailed the ones that need mailed), and cooking…stuff like that. So, I put off blogging.

I gave up my nicotine, alcohol, escape…whatever you’d like to associate it to that you understand.

Even though I’ve gone on for weeks about my unpreparedness for Christmas, this was the most prepared for Christmas I’ve been in years. Actually, this Christmas has been virtually stress-free in comparison to so many others.

I dread Christmas. Easter. Thanksgiving. Just the idea gives me indigestion. Too much could go wrong. Too many people with too many expectations most of which are never communicated to any one else. So, we suffer silently until we explode.

Hopefully, the explosion is due to an overindulgence in food rather than our impending emotional collapse.

Holidays stress me out. You could probably say I have an irrational fear of them based on minor and almost trivial incidents.

I panic most at Christmas. Gift giving stresses me out beyond belief. I don’t deal well with other’s disappointment. I can’t handle the fact that someone was let down or didn’t like something they received. I don’t fake it well if I am disappointed or let down. I truly dislike the whole tradition of gift giving at Christmas.

I don’t spend enough time around the people I buy gifts for to know them well enough to purchase something they might want, like, or need. Is that my fault? 50% yes. However, I won’t, any more, take the responsibility for the other half onto my shoulders.

I did well this year. Except for grocery shopping. For some reason I didn’t get my decisions made on what to make until Christmas Eve morning. So, I had to grocery shop on Christmas Eve.

It wouldn’t have been too bad if we weren’t predicted to get a blizzard on Christmas night. My Christmas groceries turning in to Christmas groceries plus restock the whole house for a blizzard.

Barely in the door of the grocery store, my cell phone rings. Shuffling my cart out of the middle of the aisle I discuss what needs discussing and then move back into traffic. Phone rings again. Talk again while getting more groceries.

I went to the produce aisle alone four times in that one store in that one trip. Grocery shopping nightmare…bad list…many phone interruptions…many Christmas greetings to other shoppers.

Finally as I’m trying to pay for my colassol amount of groceries with a split of a gift certificate, some cash, and a debit card, my cell phone is ringing again. Yes, I’m frustrated. Yes, my husband is upset with me for being short with him.

So, I bagged the groceries. Struggle with overloaded cart in a parking lot slopped towards the highway towards my new vehicle that I haven’t loaded anything into yet, and my cell phone rings again. Yes, I’m even shorter. No, I’m not almost home. I’m trying to keep the cart from hitting the car or rolling to the highway.

Yes, I’m standing in the parking lot trying to figure out the best way to load the groceries crying on Christmas Eve. I shopped for the stuff, loaded it onto the checkout conveyor, bagged the stuff, controlled it across a parking lot, and now I’m loading it into the vehicle to drive home unload it, put it away, and start cooking while my family is going out to lunch.

See? I told you. Irrational. Absolutely nothing is going wrong and yet the fact that people want to talk to me on Christmas Eve when I’m trying to do something I should have (and could have) done days before sets off the waterworks.

And because of this my family decides that I’m crabby and to be avoided at all costs other to inform me just how crabby I am. Their repeated reminders, even at Christmas Eve dinner with other family, of course improves my mood greatly.

It’s just the sheer idea of the holidays that drives me to irrational levels of stress. I behave in ways that are not normal. I lash out. I tend to want to read or write more as a way to escape all of the “holiday” things I am supposed to be doing.

And I pause and reflect, and I don’t think that’s what Christmas is about at all. So much of our Christmas holiday season is steeped in tradition…and that tradition is not always based on biblical principles.

We have taken the birthday of our King and turned it in to this celebration that brings undue stress to many. I could say that I’m the only one who struggles with the holiday season, but I’m not. I know I’m not. I talk to people everyday who are so stressed, sick even, obsessed, bankrupting themselves financially, emotionally, and spiritually to celebrate a holiday that is all about accepting a gift that’s already been given and paid for in full.

Happy birthday, Jesus. I’m sorry I’ve turned the gift of Your presence into stress of giving presents.

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 10:9-10

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