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Saying No This Christmas

I love Christmas. Truly. I love everything about it. The decorated homes, the lit trees, the look in a child's eyes when they see Santa Claus, Christmas Eve services at church. It's absolutely my favorite time of year. So, it astounds me to see all that joy diminished by the stress of the holidays.

It's no secret that Christmastime and summer are when crime sprees peak. The stress of Christmas shopping, the duties of holiday parties and over scheduling of events can bring many people to a breaking point.

Just yesterday, I was squeezing in some grocery shopping before picking kids up from school. After swinging into my parking spot, I noticed a yelling match going on between two "gentlemen" in the next aisle over. One man, in his truck, had apparently admonished the other guy who had parked in a spot designated for parents with children. The man who had parked in the spot began yelling obscenities at the man in the truck, dropping f-bombs for all the world to hear. Merry Christmas!

It shook me up a little. The sheer explosion of anger from this person stunned me. Usually I take a while to get boiling mad, and am usually never angry enough to spew expletives. And never over a parking job. But it made me stop and think.

Why do we push ourselves to such extremes? Maybe the guy in the parking lot was just hot tempered by nature. But maybe he was feeling the ever pressing walls of Christmas pushing in on him.

In my book, Blessed Are the Jesus Chicks, I spend a chapter on saying no. As a society, we tend to feel the need to host the party, go to the siorre, volunteer at the church event, dress up the house, make the home-baked goodies. We want our gifts to look like something Martha Stewart would drool over. And now with the popularity of Pinterest, we find ourselves regularly raising the bar to match what the next guy is doing, or, better yet, exceeding them.

My advice: stop it. Now.

Don't get me wrong. I have a strong affinity for lights and tinsel, stockings hung by the chimney with care and rubbing elbows with my beloved friends. But, unless these things bring a vast amount of joy to your life, then you could be missing out on the bigger picture.

Everything around Christmas should be joyful and reflect the hope brought with Christ's birth. If you don't want to hang the lights but would rather spend that time baking with your children, do it. There is no law that says you must decorate every nook of your house for this special season. It doesn't make you a better mother and it certainly doesn't score more points with the Big Man upstairs.

Not to sound scrooge-ish, but we over complicate the holidays. Why not simplify this season? Cut out the extra commitments that aren't adding joy to your family or adding to your spiritual growth. Take that time and put it to better use.

And when you feel the pressure of making the season bright suffocating you, remember the best light of Christmas comes from Jesus shining through you. That is, after all, the very
reason for the season.

You can purchase Blessed Are the Jesus Chicks here:


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