Helping Families Survive The Christmas Frenzy

The Care and Feeding of our Souls

Everybody knows that this is a busy time of the year. Shopping, decorating, concerts, parties, etc.  pile up on us- especially those of us with children in our lives. Pre-Christmas frenzy is too often made worse by the financial burdens we can load on ourselves, and the post-Christmas hangover tends to make the holiday memories a bit depressing.
There is a sane and healthy alternative— if we choose to embrace it. Mother Church has, in the Great Tradition, given us the gift of Advent- a season of quiet self-examination, generous gratitude and expectant hope before the celebration of Christmas. Admittedly, this vision of quiet reflection is in direct conflict with the frenzy of our culture. It is also in direct conflict with the burdens we heap on ourselves- that we should do everything all the time everywhere not just for us but for the “benefit” and approval of whoever.
Here is the fruit of the secular consumerist religion: Dads and (especially) Moms dread the season and end up resentful, burned out and debt ridden. Kids are baptized into the voracious materialism that quickly hollows out their souls. Everybody else either falls into the consumerist trap or wonders what happened to “good tidings of comfort and joy.”
We can, by the grace of God, take control of our spiritual health. Jesus says the greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind.” This commandment is given to us because God knows that if we keep it, we begin to enjoy the “peace that passes all understanding.” But keeping the commandment means making serious adjustments in our lives. If we want to experience the joy of knowing God, we must put to death those things that crowd out or distract us from prayer, worship, contemplation, relationships and service. Each one of us is limited by time and the energy God gives us. If we feed into the craziness of the secular model of life, it becomes our number one priority and we crowd out things that bring peace and joy.
Some suggestions from your shepherd:
1.     Pay attention to your burn-out and if you find yourself resenting something, kill it and give it a Christian burial. Lightness and freedom follow!
2.     Keep expenditures within the bounds of financial reality. Make some presents. Small is good.
3.     Spread out holiday tasks. Share the party prep. Invite folks to help decorate. That type of thing.
4.     Make worship a priority. Be fierce about it. See anything that competes with it as a seduction of Satan. That means soccer teams, Football games, tournaments- anything.
5.     Carry into the new year a resolve to put spiritual growth on the calendar.
6.     Attend a prayer retreat. Learn the way of silence and contemplation.
7.     Finally start the small group you know you need.
8.     What is the Lord speaking to you?
Think with eternity in mind. Ask this question: At the Last Day, will God want to hear how busy I was or how faithful?