Archive for August 2013

How to have the Christmas you’ve always wanted – part 2

August 25, 2013

Women – the Christmas logistician

In many homes across America, preparations for the Christmas celebration are
carried out by the women. They decide what decorations go up, where the
decorations go up, and when the decorations go up. And if they don’t have the
decorations they want, they buy them or, better yet, make the decorations
themselves. They plan the Christmas feast. They spend long hours shopping for
just the right gift for everyone on the Christmas list. They clean the house
and prepare the guest room for the Christmas family get together. They help
with the church Christmas program and prepare for the neighborhood Christmas
party. Sound busy yet? When you add all this extra work to the busyness of the
everyday job and housework, it’s no wonder many women feel so stressed out and
tired at Christmas. They feel tired and yet happy too. They love making
Christmas special for their loved ones and gladly make the sacrifice.

What women don’t realize is that this added stress and busyness of the Christmas
season builds up and can burn them out. Christmas becomes a chore, no longer
enjoyable. They dread each Christmas season and can’t wait until it’s over.

Women have a great capacity to love. Into each facet of the Christmas
celebration they add their special touch of love, Many pour so much love and
concern into the celebration and into their families who don’t always show
appreciation for what they do that they figure why bother. Just like
rechargeable batteries need to be recharged when they run down women need their
love batteries recharged, something many women don’t take time to have done.

Some women strive to give their families the perfect Christmas. They scour the
Christmas magazines in store checkout lanes looking for the perfect theme for
decorating their house. Or they remember childhood Christmases and try to
reproduce them. Or they come up with their own ideal Christmas and try to come
as close to that ideal as they possibly can. And each year their anxiety level
climbs as they look around and feel that all their efforts fall short of what
Christmas should be.

Following this are some exercises that each woman should complete to discover
what, if any, changes should be made to make Christmas more enjoyable for the
family and less stressful overall. These exercises are taken from the book
Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli.

Exercise 1: Life-style Inventory
Many women overestimate the time they have available for holiday projects. Take
the following life-style inventory to get a sense of how busy you are before you
add on the responsibilities of Christmas.

1. Check all the following statements that are true for you:
I’m employed full-time.
I’m employed part-time.
I have young children who are not yet in school or daycare.
I have children in school or daycare.
I’m a student.
I’m a single parent.
I have extended-family obligations.
I am primarily responsible for managing the household.
I have the following additional commitments:
Church
School
Volunteer work (boards, charities, committees, etc.)
Children’s activities
Classes
Other

2. As a general rule I can count on _____ hours of free time a day.

3. I usually spend those unscheduled hours in the following ways:

4. To find time to prepare for Christmas I usually take time from:

Exercise 2: Examining the Work of Christmas
This exercise will help you gain a more objective view of all the holiday
responsibilities you may be adding to your everyday schedule.

1. Look at the following list of typical holiday responsibilities and place a
check by the ones that you were primarily responsible for last year.
Making up a gift list Getting the tree
Christmas shopping Decorating the tree
Making gifts Outside decorations
Wrapping gifts Hosting parties
Mailing gifts Preparing company meals
Writing cards Helping with school activities
Making cards Planning family gatherings
Helping out at church Making Christmas dinner
Holiday baking Extra grocery shopping
Home decorations Making travel arrangements
Sewing clothes Packing
Special holiday cleaning Preparing for houseguests
Advent preparations Other

2. Add any tasks that we have overlooked.

3. Spend some time remembering how you felt last Christmas as you were doing
each of the chores that you checked. Put a star by the ones that you actually
enjoyed.

4. Take a piece of paper and write down the tasks from the above list that you
did not enjoy doing last year. Beside each one, write down a few words that
describe the reason(s) for your dissatisfaction. Here are some common reasons:
Not enough time
Not enough money
Not enough family support
Not enough help
Don’t enjoy this kind of activity
Don’t value this kind of activity
My performance didn’t measure up to my expectations
Wasn’t creative enough

Completing these exercises should give you a better idea of how much time you
have available for holiday projects, how much you attempt to do each Christmas,
and how you feel about those tasks.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine
by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and
Company, Inc.

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How to have the Christmas you’ve always wanted – part 1

August 17, 2013

This is the first of a nine-part series on having a truly enjoyable Christmas
celebration. Please do the exercises that accompany the posts as they will help
you determine how to make Christmas 2013 a memorable and joyous celebration.
—————————————————————————
How was Christmas 2012? Was it all that you wanted it to be, happy and fulfilled
surrounded by a loving, supporting family? Or was it a stressful chore that you
don’t look forward to repeating next Christmas? For many Christmas doesn’t live
up to the joy it promises. People spend more than they can afford, sometimes
much more, on gifts, food, and decor. They take on more responsibility than they
can handle with parties, programs, daily work, and the Christmas celebration
itself. They also spend less time relaxing with their families. Shopping for
gifts, baking, decorating, and making Christmas crafts take up all available
time. It’s no wonder that Christmas is so stressful and busy for so many.

Americans are obsessed with Christmas. News mediums report on community
Christmas celebrations. Business reports and business magazines tell how
Christmas is affecting sales. Newspapers give homemakers practical advice on
hosting the “perfect” Christmas celebration. Women’s magazines strive to have
the best Christmas issue ever with page upon page of crafts, recipes, and ideas
for decorating the house. Even talk shows get into the act inviting
psychologists to diagnose and prescribe treatment for everyone who suffers from
the “Christmas Blues.” This shallow obsession robs the Christmas holiday of much
of the joy many expect to experience at Christmas.

How can we fix this problem and make Christmas a more meaningful and joyful
celebration? To answer this question we need to consider three questions. What’s
it like, for each family member, to go through the holiday season? What’s the
root off people’s problems with Christmas? How can we restore the simplicity and
beauty to the Christmas celebration?

Christmas is very different now than it was a hundred or more years ago. In the
1800’s, preparations for the Christmas celebration didn’t start until
mid-December and the celebration lasted for several days. Now people are buying
and planning the Christmas celebration months in advance for a celebration that
lasts only one day. Family, community, and religious traditions have been
replaced with passive, money-making events where people get into the “Christmas
spirit” by enjoying the work of others. The family celebration hasn’t escaped
either. It has become an elaborate, expensive production where the crafty
decorations found in the latest Christmas issue rule and time for families to
relax and enjoy each other suffers.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be exploring the answers to the above questions.
We’ll look at how Christmas preparations affect each member of the family. We’ll
examine the traditional Christmas homecoming. We’ll also look at what we do to
celebrate Christmas and how we can make our celebrations more meaningful and
less stressful.

The Christmas Pledge
Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine
by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and
Company, Inc.

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