Perhaps you remember Andy Williams or more recently, Amy Grant, singing these words to the familiar Christmas song:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

Just yesterday, I found myself humming and singing them to myself.  Then I began to ponder the words…the most wonderful time of the year…the hap-happiest season of all…and realized that frankly, I don’t always feel that way about the Christmas season.  Nor do many other people.

For lots of folks, Christmas is filled with stress…endless parties and events to attend, shopping ’til you drop, wondering if you’ll ever find the right gifts (or afford them when you do), or if you’re like me, eating your body weight in cookies and candy until you can’t weight, oops I mean “wait” for the new year so you can begin to diet.  For some, Christmas means grieving the loss of someone special,  spending the season alone or with strained family relationships.

Let’s face it, it’s not always the “hap-happiest season of all!”

Now for the record, I’m not anti-Christmas.  I’m anti-stress!  I had to make up my mind a few years ago regarding what I was going to do to keep the Christmas season meaningful and unload some of the stress.  Here are a few things I’ve come up with:

  • Remember it’s about Jesus. I have a crystal cross ornament that hangs on my tree. I put it in a prominent place so every time I look at the tree, I see it. It reminds me that Christmas is really, truly about peace on earth, and God’s good will toward us.  We’re loved, forgiven and redeemed.   We also have a birthday dinner for Jesus, cake and all.  Jesus gets a place set at the table and we sing happy birthday!
  • Curb the holiday spending.  Do most of us really need everything we get?
  • I decided the 3rd and 4th cookie taste just like the first two, so I can quit after two!
  • When family gatherings are difficult, try to remember the good things about people. Prepare yourself in advance by deciding how you might respond if there are tensions.
  • If you are grieving the loss of someone close, take time to remember and celebrate them.  Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings to someone you trust.
  • If you struggle with depression during the holidays, don’t isolate yourself. Volunteer at a holiday event. Focusing on others can be a sure way to lift your spirits.

May you have a Christmas season filled with God’s peace and good will to you.