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

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
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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