One, two, three, GO. It’s how I feel about the holiday season. One day I’m noticing the leaves are just beginning to change colors, and the next I’m like, ‘Holy Smokes! I need to get moving!”
It’s time to buy a turkey, make a dinner, give thanks, attend a cocktail party, shop, find a tree, decorate a tree, decorate a house, shop, attend a school holiday concert, nudge my husband into hanging outdoor lights, shop, bake, wrap, shop, wrap, bake, get another turkey or ham or beef tenderloin who knows which, buy the dog his gifts, oh shoot-send my cards, wrap, oh yea-I forgot so and so; shop, wrap, church and finally…Enjoy the actual holidays.
I do love the holiday season.
I don’t love stress.
And I am pretty good at knowing how to stress. Pretty good at thinking ahead and planning and then ultimately, worrying about the details. And stress can make me a Grinch.
A few weeks back I was dwelling on a get together I was going to host. I wasn’t sure how many people were coming. Which led to: Did I buy enough food? Did I have enough wine? Could I get some of the dishes prepared ahead of time as needed? Was I going to run out of napkins, steak knives, potatoes? Finally I was sick of thinking about it.
So I asked God for help. I asked him to calm my heart. I asked him to remind me why I’d invited people over in the first place:
To renew the bonds of friendship.
I did not invite people over to worry about the small stuff.
I feel strongly that God wants us to celebrate life. To enjoy our journey along the way. After all, how can we be a representative of Christ if we are bitter and cranky? Scripture supports these thoughts.
Proverbs 17:22: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
1 Thessolonians 5:16-17: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.
Psalms 118:24: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
When I asked God to help me be calm about my party, to embrace the good instead of worrying over it, I realized a great truth: Worry robs me of joy.
These two emotions are mutually exclusive; I can’t fret and feel joyful at the same time. I have to choose. I have to pick a side, so to speak.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are three important days to celebrate. I don’t want to spend the days in between them in a tizzy. I want to anticipate these days with pleasure, I want to remember why we celebrate them in the first place.
So this year, I’ve decided: no more time wasted on petty worries. It’s time to trust God with the details. As we head into the holiday season: I choose joy. JOY. So much more peaceful than worry. You can bet my husband and kids will approve of my choice.
There will be moments when I am challenged, lots of times when I’ll have to re-frame my thoughts (think: lumpy turkey gravy, long check out lines, busy parking lots, cheap wrapping paper that rips). So be it. I may forget on occasion that I chose joy, but I will strive for it. I mean, if I have to choose one or the other, if I have to pick a side, I choose Team Joy. And when I do, I win-no matter the score. So do those around me. So does God.