I know this advice is probably too late to save some of you because you are there already. With a few days before Christmas, many of you are already stressed out trying to complete your Christmas to-do list. The truth is that much of the Christmas stress in our life is self-induced.
My wife and I have six children and three grandchildren, and I buy only a few Christmas gifts per year. It’s not because I am the Grinch trying to steal Christmas. I don’t have some theologically-based reason why I oppose buying gifts for Christmas. I actually love Christmastime. What I don’t like is the self-induced Christmas stress so many people experience.
Let’s say, for example, I tried to do the shopping thing like some of you do. I already know I can’t find an appropriate gift for any of my children. They are all so different. I don’t know how to pick out anything for any of them to wear that they would like. My selections would be a source of ridicule. My children would laugh and text about how dated my selections are. In all probability, they would traffic the malls and shopping centers, standing in the after-Christmas lines to return my labor-intensive choices.
So, I take the lazy but always successful route. I just buy some money holders, put monetary gifts in them, and be done with it.
I guess I could buy each of my children a nice new digital gadget. You can’t go wrong with that. Or could you? I am sure that most of my children are already adequately supplied with these. But if I bought each of them something on the high end (Apple watch, Bose wireless headset, etc.), my choices would be a hit. But wait a minute! There is a limit to how much money I want to spend on others to celebrate Jesus’ day.
As for my wife and me, we have been married for more than 39 years. I’m kind of tapped out on being creative. One thing we have learned about Christmas over the years—buying clothes for each other seldom works for us. As for my family, my greatest moment during Christmastime is getting together and enjoying each other.
I remember when I used to have the Christmas stress some of you do now. My children were young, and every Christmas I was putting bikes together and assembling toys in my office. Of course, that’s after enduring the brutal shopping to buy the gifts. Coming up to Christmas, my office at home would be like a mini-Santa’s workshop. By the afternoon of Christmas Day, I was ready for a long nap.
And let me just speak to you Yuletide superstars out there. That would be you moms, primarily, who whip out those marvelous meals for the holidays. At the writing of this post, some of you have already made a full press toward Christmas Day in the kitchen. Some of you should seriously consider reducing the menu. You don’t need to cook cakes for everybody in the neighborhood. (And some of the people coming to dinner don’t need to be eating cake anyway, if the truth be told.) Your guests won’t die if you have only two kinds of meats instead of six for dinner.
And by the way, Dads, don’t lose it because there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete your prized do-it-yourself project before 25 December. Believe me, it has nothing to do with Christmas. I’m just saying.
Anyway, my hope for each of you is that you enjoy more of Christ for Christmas, and less self-induced Christmas stress. Your body and your mind will thank you for it. You won’t have as bad a case of the blues in January when the bills come in the mail. Most importantly, you will be able to focus more on the real reason for the season.
Frank King is pastor of the English-speaking congregation at the Hinesville Korean Full Gospel Church, 758 Tupelo Trail, Hinesville, GA, 31313.