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CHRISTMAS SURVIVAL TIPS


Ho-Ho-Ho? No-No-No! Getting Over The Holiday Blues

Christmas may be on December 25th every year, but it starts in early October. Thatís when the ads start running on TV and they seem to get going earlier each year. By the time December rolls around, I have the same love for those ads that I do for political commercials in an election year.

Now donít get me wrong. I am not one of those Holiday Haters. I always look forward to the Holiday Season and like Linus van Pelt from ĎA Charlie Brown Christmasí, I try to remember that the special day in December is more than just about gifts, egg nog and trying to out do the neighbors with decorations. And that, I think, is part of the key to avoiding the Holiday blues.

The birth of Jesus has changed the world. Even those who choose not to believe canít escape the fact that this single life has managed to alter just about everything. For those who do believe, we remember his birth as the beginning of our own spiritual birth. The message from an angel of the Lord to Joseph, as recorded in the New Testament, sums it all up nicely for us: ď...thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.Ē

Keeping focus on the true meaning of Christmas can help us avoid over-emphasing what society has done to a simple celebration of a blessed event. It might help us to keep from fighting over a parking space at the mall or provide the patience needed as we watch someone with five children try and control them while they unload a couple of shopping carts worth of stuff on to the check out counter.

Too many people expect something magical to happen over the Holidays and end up as emotional road kill when it doesnít. They begin with unrealistic expectations. These can include hoping that a former romantic partner will return to them, that a family feud will work itself out, that a birth parent will be located or that the boss will finally realize how blessed he or she is to have you in the office and give you that well-deserved five or six-figure bonus. Keep your expectations in line with reality.

The magic of Christmas has already been delivered to us in the form of a Savior who was born of a virgin and, years later, died on the cross for our sins. He was Godís Gift to humanity. It doesnít get much better than that. Remembering that Gift can help ease our own emotional pain if weíre not quite feeling the love we think we should during the Holidays. One way to feel the love is to share it.

Instead of fretting over whatever matters are rattling around our brain as we watch others who look like they are enjoying the Holiday Season more than we are, we should dump the Scrooge in us and start getting into the real spirit of Christmas. Bring some groceries to a needy family. Take an elderly or disabled person shopping. Carry around some Christmas cookies, candy or small gifts and give them out. Offer them to those at the store buying just the bare essentials, to people at the library looking for books to keep their kids from being too down over the holiday break because there is no money for presents or to those at your church who have the look that says Santa will not be stopping by to visit this year.

Give until it helps (you). Volunteer at a local food bank or homeless shelter. Visit the folks in retirement or heath care centers and be ready to sing some Christmas carols. Offer a ride to someone at your church who wants to attend holiday services, but has no transportation. If Christmas is about giving, get started. What you will receive back in terms of good will is priceless. Get out and about and share the joy. Never sit home and mope.

Some people will always overdo it when it comes to the Holidays and stores will keep commercializing Christmas until they squeeze the last penny out of all of our pockets. That doesnít mean that we canít get into the real spirit of Christmas, look forward to the Holidays as a time to remember Godís Gift, give back to others some of the good things weíve received all year and enjoy the season. We can do this without depending on massive amounts of decorations, the biggest Christmas Tree in the neighborhood or a home stuffed to the rafters with gifts as the motivational force behind our joy.

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