The Christmas season is here. Some people are thrilled and walk around with an irrepressible joy. Others are stressed and overwhelmed and long for it to be over. What is the difference?
As I study people who are filled with Christmas joy, I notice that they have two things in common: They proactively take charge of their calendar and they make blessing other people their priority. Here are the practical tips I’ve learned from them:
Take charge of your calendar and schedule your priorities now. Know what activities you want and need to stay grounded and joyful, and get them scheduled. Now. Today. Not only does this take the pressure off, but it also gives you a ready-made reason to say “no” to unwanted requests or invitations. You can now honestly say, “I am not available that day.”There are two categories to consider:
Tasks: Rather than always trying to fit holiday tasks into your already-busy calendar, proactively schedule blocks of time for decorating, shopping and card-writing. Take time to enjoy neighborhood decorations, and end some days with a cup of tea sitting in silence in front of the Christmas tree.
People: Identify the people who are most important to connect with, and work to schedule time with them now. Will family be in from out of town this holiday season? Get out your calendar and schedule some one-one-one time with them now.
Make giving and blessing a priority. Christmas stirs many desires, like the desire for tasty food and drinks, connecting with friends and family, and getting cool gifts. While these desires are all good and legitimate, they are not as deep or powerful as our desire to bless others by giving love and blessing. As Winston Churchill insightfully said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Here are some examples that have inspired me over the years:
Schedule a visit and bring a gift to someone who will have few or no visitors. If you do not know of such a person, look around, or call a nearby nursing home. If you do not have time for a visit, call one or two friends or relatives who are alone or having a tough Christmas.
Ask children to give away some portion of their toys in the days leading up to Christmas to less fortunate kids. After all, they will likely get lots of new toys on Christmas morning!
Decide as a family to cut back on giving and pool the money to give to a charity. At Christmas dinner ask family members to briefly describe the charity that tugs at their heart strings. Then come to an agreement and give that charity a meaningful investment.
It is time to recapture the joy of the Christmas season. Start today. Take one small step to schedule your priorities and make giving and blessing a priority. Then you will be the one walking around with irrepressible joy.