holiday stress

The Heart of the Matter

The stress of working in retail the last 15 years has given me somewhat of a Bah Humbug attitude during the holiday season.  In fact my holiday motto has been “We Work Because You Don’t Have To.”  Retail employees live and die by the Vacation Blackout Schedule; the schedule that has kept me working during the holidays these last 15 years and even dictated the date of my marriage.  But holiday stress doesn’t just fall on those of us in the Retail profession; it touches everyone. Take a moment and reflect on the true reason for the season.  Jesus.  We celebrate the GIFT of life.  The baby who would grow up and GIVE his life for us.  Strange that the topic of giving should create so much stress this time of year.

When we think of Christmas giving we automatically think of shopping, spending money, wrapping presents and giving sweaters, jewelry and knick-knacks.  But that is not the only way to give, nor is it the best decision for everyone.  If you’re shopping on credit cards to give gifts to everyone in the entire office or every member of your extended family you may want to rethink your giving technique.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box.  Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:41 – 44 (English Standard Version)

No, this verse is not telling you to spend your last penny on gifts when you need to pay rent!  It’s asking you to give with the heart of the widowed woman.  Giving is more than dealing with material possessions; it’s the heart of the matter.  Are you giving to suck up to the boss or because you truly want to bless him?

Baking cupcakes & cookies for the office, donating your hair, writing a poem, doing volunteer work or watching a friend’s child for an afternoon are all ways of giving and showing love to those we care about without breaking the bank.  Set budgets and guidelines for giving with your office pals, family & spouse then stick to them.  Money is tight for most people these days and with the rising costs of gas, milk and Starbucks discussing limits shouldn’t be considered taboo.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven thank you for placing the desire to give in my heart.  Help me to understand how to bless people with gifts that show your love and mine without putting me / my family under financial strain.

Still Hungry?  Deuteronomy 15 instructs us to give cheerfully as does 2 Corinthians 9, which also reminds us that we reap what we sow (time, money, acts of kindness…).

Lord, Bless My Holiday Stress

Most of us love being generous with others and connecting with friends and family at holiday festivities, but there is fact that cannot be denied. Holiday fun is connected to the stress of busy schedules and endless opportunities to help the less fortunate. I love living in a community that is so others oriented. In the last twenty-four hours I’ve been invited to to feed the poor, buy coats and shoes for those without and donate toys to needy children, and Christmas is still four weeks away!!! However, my question is, “How do I show love to others AND manage my time, money and energy responsibly?” Holiday demands can do one of two things: 1) squeeze the life out of you or 2) squeeze life from you. I know I’m not the only woman that has run herself into the ground with busyness and counted down the days until the holidays are all over, but I’m learning some things I’d like to share.

  • The weight of the world in NOT on your shoulders. –Spend a little time analyzing the needs in your community. Decide what and where you’ll give and be at PEACE!! Your gift will go farther and have a long-lasting effect when the motivation behind it is joy and not pressure.
  • The world won’t come to an end if you STOP and take a break.-Do the unexpected and give yourself a moment of refreshment. Put your pjs on at 5 in the afternoon, let the kids have popcorn for dinner or skip washing the sheets, just once. (If you bathe before bedtime, they’re not really dirty anyway.)
  • NO is not a curse word!!-Saying no doesn’t mean, “I don’t love you” or “You’re not important.” In the right context, it means, “I realize I’m only flesh and bones and I’m going to be smart enough to take care of this flesh.”

When holidays, needy loved ones or career goals pressure us to give from an empty tank, life is siphoned from us and we end up empty-handed for the “life assignments” that do belong to us. Recognizing our limitations isn’t weakness. It’s smart, it’s mature and it’s freeing!!

There’s a fruity cliché that says, “When life give you lemons, make lemonade.” I've decided I want my life to be like a plump, juicy orange and therefore am initiating my own fruity expression...

”Freshly Squeezed-Giving Life!”