Friday, December 18, 2015

5 Smart Things You Can Do-by Heidi McLaughlin

Remember the days of Christmas tinsel? Many young uns put tinsel in the same category as the olden days of VHS and Pac Man. But tinsel holds a special place in my heart. In our home the execution of tinsel was the flagship of Christmas because the end result was a sparkly and magnificent tree.  No more than three or four strands on the end of each branch, and if you don’t have the patience for that; well then go and finish your apple cider.
            But we had a dog. A big dog named Brutus!  I can’t recall the many times we came home from an event to find our magnificent tree on the floor. A tangled mess of bulbs, candy canes, lights and oh the tangled tinsel. Trying to untangle tinsel left our family frustrated and snapping at each other.  “Who left the dog on the house anyway?” “Who is going to clean up this mess?” “Come on you guys, everyone has to help!” I’m finally grateful that generation outgrew tinsel, but now we have other Christmas frustrations: busyness, distractions, expectations and perhaps disappointment and sadness.  I believe over the last number of years we have lost our way to what Christmas is all about. What can we do to uphold the sanctity and beauty of this blessed season? None of us want a tangled mess so here are 5 smart things we can all do for a superb Christmas.

1.         Be different. Years ago I broke status quo and stopped sending Christmas letters. Instead, I do a Valentines letter and stay in touch with people throughout the year. Also, when Jack and I go away at Christmas we don’t decorate the house. No decorations! Nothing, nada, nichts.

2.         Lower your expectations.  That sounds negative but in fact it’s very freeing.  Think about this.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s most people didn’t decorate their homes or put up a tree until about two weeks before Christmas.  We have 23 days in the month of December to shop, decorate, send cards, entertain, attend banquets, bake ten different things, concerts, theatre productions, Christmas lunches, dinner and more.  It’s impossible to do everything Pinterest style. So pick your favourites and let the rest go.

3.         Reduce your gift list. Please let’s be honest. None of us need anything.  So why do we agonize and spend money on something that will end up in someone’ closet, drawer or garage?  Most likely they will want the sales slip so that they can exchange it because it “wasn’t the right thing or size.” Showing an act of kindness or a personalized card will have more lasting meaning and express your love.

4.         Rehearse a good story.  Christmas means spending time with people that have the potential to frustrate and make you angry and ruin your perfect holiday. The Bible tells us to: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right” (Philippians 4:8 NLT). Set your mind on showing and expressing love in spite of what happens.  But you need to prepare your mind and rehearse your story.  Christ came into the world to show us how to love, and Christmas is the perfect time to put that love into action.

5.         Pursue contentment and joy.  If you make a deliberate choice to enjoy the Christmas season, your actions will follow. For years I prayed for contentment and asked God to help me simplify Christmas. I wanted to experience the JOY that Christ came to give us. When Christ was born the angels sang out: “Peace on earth and goodwill toward all men.”  But this doesn’t just happen we need to pursue it.

            I know we all want the kind of Christmas that will give us precious memories for years to come. If we keep Christmas simple the pictures will be beautiful and there won’t be any messes to untangle.
     Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at:

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thanks Heidi. Simplifying Christmas can certainly take a lot of resolve for some of us, I'm sure, and yet it would afford real benefits. Your points are well taken.
May the pure joy of the true Gift of Christmas be yours and of your loved ones, in our Saviour, Jesus the Christ - Emmanuel, "God with us." ~~+~~

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