What is your reaction when you think of the holiday season? Did you know that the holiday season is actually a “holy-season” that should bring us closer to the event or person we are celebrating? Contrary to current practice, Thanksgiving Day is rooted in an occasion focused on thanking God for His provision rather than parades, football games, and shopping at odd hours. Our study of American history reminds us that the Pilgrims had experienced an incredibly difficult year, yet they chose to be thankful. Christmas is the birthday of our Savior who was born in the humblest of circumstances and gave the best gift ever—salvation. So, what are some ways that you can make this holiday season one that is “holy”? Let’s begin with an assessment of our Holiday IQ.
WHAT IS YOUR HOLIDAY IQ?
Record the points that best describe your holiday IQ.
4 indicates a high level of agreement.
When I think of the holiday season I …
1 2 3 4 choose to meditate on spiritual truths.
1 2 3 4 pray about events before saying “yes” to the invitations.
1 2 3 4 strategize my meals earlier in the day so that when an event arrives I am able to make healthy food choices.
1 2 3 4 prayerfully establish a realistic budget before starting shopping.
1 2 3 4 designate a portion of my holiday budget to my heavenly Father’s work.
1 2 3 4 protect a portion of my holiday budget to take advantage of "after holiday sales" to reduce the next year's expenditures.
1 2 3 4 am realistic about my body limitations.
1 2 3 4 am reasonable about what I expect from others during the holiday season.
1 2 3 4 create a time schedule for events I am hosting.
Once the HOLIDAY IQ is complete use the following scale for interpretation (no fair looking before you complete it!
HOLIDAY IQ INTERPRETATION
40-36 A good possibility you keep “holy” in the holiday season.
35-32 A good possibility your holiday will be pleasant.
31-28 A good possibility your holiday season will be challenging.
27-24 A good possibility your holiday season will be stressful.
23-below A good possibility your holiday season generate unpleasant memories.
If your score was lower than you prefer, consider these strategies for moving your holiday season into the “holy” category:
STRATEGIES FOR KEEPING THE HOLIDAY SEASON HOLY-SEASON
Focus on the “reasons for the seasons.” The book of Psalms is an excellent source for holiday meditation. Begin today by dividing the number of days you have remaining until December 31 by the 150 Psalms. Purpose to finish the book by December 31. Remember as you read that the Psalms are directed to the will, not the emotions. As you read underline or highlight each time you read the phrase, “I will.” When your emotions attempt to control the season purpose to allow your will to be your reflect reaction.
Keep a gratitude list. Use Psalm 103 as your guide to remembering all of your heavenly Father’s goodness to you. Record at least one blessing a day (even if was a challenging day, you are still breathing). Review the list before retiring each evening.
Maintain realistic expectations. Remember that your heavenly Father will give you the strength, financial resources, time, and ability to create the holiday season He has planned for you. He has promised to meet all of your needs not all of your wants (Philippians 4:13, 19).
Use caution in confusing excellence with perfection. Excellence you can achieve through our heavenly Father’s strength. God is the only one who achieves perfection. Consider meditating on these references relating to excellent while you work—Deuteronomy 32:1-4; Psalm 8:1; Isaiah 12:1-5; 1 Corinthians 3:13; and Romans 12:2 rather than the holiday season must be perfect. Remember that approaching a task fretting that your contribution will be inadequate may set you up for failure. Though the fretting could motivate you to succeed it may be at the cost of being so stressed that you or those who are with you do not enjoy the effort your expended.
Choose to have a forgiving spirit. Forgiveness is the foundation of all relationships—especially behind the closed doors of our homes. Though the actions of others will at times disappoint us, from a biblical perspective we are to forgive them unconditionally. It is a sobering thought to realize that relationships fracture if we refuse to forgive. When our sinful reactions collide with another’s anger often results. Anger breeds an unforgiving spirit and damages relationships. To avoid that heartache, Ephesians 4:26 calls us to deal with broken relationships before we lay our heads on the pillow at night. Matthew 5:43 teaches that to forgive is the most God-like action possible. God by nature is a forgiving God. We reflect His character when we choose to forgive (Ephesians 4:32; 1 John 1:9). Peter generously offered to forgive seven times. Jesus corrected his faulty reasoning by suggesting that he was to forgive at least 490 times! Matthew 18:21-35 clearly teaches that those forgiven the greater sins are to forgive the lesser sins. We practice the truth of these when we offer the same mercy to others that God daily extends to us. Holding a grudge is an unrighteous act. Eventually it will produce a bitter spirit. How many times are we forgive others? The same number of times we are forgiven—a number that far exceeds 490!
Set a realistic budget. List all of the individuals you want to remember during the holiday season. Consider asking them what would be a meaningful gift. Be circumspect on homemade gifts. They are fun but often are not useful or meaningful to the recipient. Invest your energy only for those who will cherish the gift. Consider giving the “gift of time.” A coupon for a meal (with some advance notice to you) or child care may mean more to an aging person (be sure to eat with them) or a young Mom than a purchased gift. Though it may be late for this season begin in January to budget for the next one. Purchase items on sale (that the recipient would truly enjoy) and set them aside.
Expand your holiday calendar. We have the tendency to think the only time we can fellowship with others is during the holidays. Our calendars are packed solid from November 1 to January 1 and then from January 2 to Valentine’s Day our calendars are empty. Consider “post-holiday” events during those cold, sometimes dreary winter months. Purpose, however, to set the dates during or before the holiday season.
Set priorities. Focus on what is important and release the “nice to do but not critical” tasks or activities. Holiday baking, for example, can be a stress factor. Rather than maxing out the oven during the holidays and then letting it set idle for several months distribute a cookie or piece of homemade candy in a decorative food bag with a coupon attached that can be redeemed after the holidays. Listing the types of cookies available along with an opportunity for the recipient to list any dietary constraints reduces the stress. As well, if the individual is not a sweet eater your time and money is not wasted.
Work smarter, not harder. Setting aside specific days for shopping, food preparation, and other activities lessens stress. Make lists and use a calendar to schedule tasks to do and events to attend. Refuse to double book yourself! Share tasks and consider spending time with friends and family while wrapping packages and preparing food.
Maintain regular meal, exercise, and sleep patterns. Taking care of yourself will help you cope with the stressful situations. Remember that your body is “the temple of the holy spirit” and treat it accordingly (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Anticipate a “holy” season by meditating on what is right in your life. Mediate on thoughts and listen to music that relaxes, revives, and keeps you focused on the “reasons for the seasons” (Philippians 4:4-9).
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God . . .” (1 John 3:1).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “I am a woman of value.”
If you would like a sample chapter of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook simply click on “Contact Pat” and request your copy.
Blessings on your holiday season as you focus on making your house a home!