It’s almost Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year! So how is it that on one Christmas Day I ended up crying on the floor of an I-94 rest stop bathroom?

I was the Goldilocks of Christmas until I learned to say “no.”

This Christmas is Much Too Hard

It seems like I have always understood that Christmas is about Jesus; that giving is better than receiving.

How better to show my love for, and testify Jesus’ love towards, my friends and family than to do Christmas up big? I attended every recital and bazaar. Made cookies and candies. Christmas cards in the hundreds. Parties, parties, parties! Shoeboxes and Angel Trees. Handmade individualized presents. Oh, I strung the lights; I wanted every bough covered. Office Secret Santa. Hubby’s office dinner – what to wear? I said “yes” to everything, which meant I said “no” to nothing.

There were so many good times, and we had a lot of fun!

But even good stress is stress! And I. Was. Stressed. Out.

I could not handle conflict, or even minor incidences, with any candor. Finally, one Christmas night, on our way home from our fourth celebration in 36 hours, I escaped the passenger seat of our car at a rest stop bathroom and bawled my eyes out. My husband had to come in and get me.

This Christmas is Much Too Easy

The Lord had mercy on me, and the following year I had a flu-sick baby on Christmas. I stayed home with her, watched Magnum P.I. reruns, and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was bliss.

The next year, remembering my rest stop incident, I quit Christmas. I didn’t want to be stressed out; I didn’t want to cause anyone else to be stressed out. By then, in all honesty, I hated Christmas. I felt internal pressure, plus some external pressure, to do Christmas up big. Middle ground seemed impossible. Fear entered. So I decided to say “no” to everything instead of “yes” to anything.

No baking. No shopping. No Christmas-carding. No decorating to speak of. No heart in the celebrations. No understanding others’ holiday cheer. I stripped Christmas of anything extra.

I can’t report it meant no stress; there was still some. I can report there was no joy for me, or my husband.

I couldn’t go on like that.

This Christmas is Just Right

Now, what was to be done?

Matthew 5:37 holds my answer. “Say just a simple ‘Yes, I will’ or “No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.” (Each version of the Bible states it with different nuances, each one so powerful!)

This was counter-intuitive for me at the time. I thought doing it all meant I was a good steward. And yet I felt so convicted for not doing anything. Jesus’ words put my conflict into perspective, and set me on the path of truth.

Specifically, I needed to exercise this principle in two main areas of my life: my internal ideals, and any external pressures/ expectations.

Yes to reasonable planning. Yes to asking for help. No to stringing lights on every bough. No to multiple celebrations on the same day.

Healing took years. Baby steps. Practicing new patterns.

For those of you who know how, saying “no” is a tremendous tool. I am still learning. My lofty goal is to say it through a kind smile, with humility and grace. I gain confidence when I stand behind it. I earn trust when I use it wisely, because it means I’m saying “yes” to something else. If I make a mistake, He grants me grace to correct it.

I am no longer the Goldilocks of Christmas.

The too hard Christmases, the yes-filled/ stress-filled ones, are past me. The too easy Christmases, the no-filled/ drop-it ones are past me. Nowadays, I look forward to Christmas. I’ve got skills! And I can use them all year long.

Maybe some of you have tips for me? Or maybe someone needed to hear this today. Either way, drop me a quick line below, won’t you?