by Marilyn Ravina, Holden Christian Academy staff
This year, like so many, people are rushing to get their homes decorated, their gifts bought and wrapped, the tree filled with lights and the house smelling delicious with scents of ginger, cinnamon, and pine. All these wonderful reminders are meant to be a celebration that will bring joy, peace, and love into our lives and hearts. Yet so often we are driven by the sense of business, the rush of chores that seem endless, the memories of relatives and loved ones who have passed on. It can bring such a mix of emotions that peace seems evasive and hard to walk in.
Today I was reminded of this in the dentist’s office when his assistant talked about how she felt like crying when the Christmas tree’s lights were not working, and her dog comforted her. Even our pets can feel our stress and they try to comfort us. Yet we ourselves don’t understand the peace we could be enjoying and how our loved ones feel our stress as well but are often unable to comfort us.
I was reminded by a dear friend who just lost his mother to cancer that each day he has learned to name at least twenty-one things that he is thankful for. Can you imagine starting each day like that? Soon you too will find the peace of Christmas if you start to count those blessings that you take for granted. You can say, “I’m too blessed to be stressed, and mean it.”
Our principal, Susan Hayward, sent her staff a letter with a few ways to calm those anxious thoughts and gain the deeper peace of the season. Here are some of her practical and wise suggestions:
• Choose only a few things to attend, and fully enter in when there. With kids, make sure they are fully prepped for the event and know what type of behavior is expected and how long things will last. Then be fully there, enjoy the event together and review it later.
• To create a Christmas ambience in your home, remember that smells make the most lasting memories. Scented candles, wood smoke, evergreens and baking cookies quickly grab attention. Add Christmas music and a string of lights and voila, you have created an atmosphere to member. Turn off the lights and string some lights around your table and eat by candle light. Your younger kids will be delighted! Read a Christmas book at the table after dinner.
• Do simple acts of kindness like feeding the birds, taking cookies to a neighbor and praying for the sick. Little acts done in love are where God is at, we tend to make things more complicated.
• Forget trying to look like your house is in a magazine. Real people live there. Instead create a cozy, relaxed, loving atmosphere for them! I saw a design show recently where a woman decorated her table to perfection. I wanted to go out and buy all her ivory and silver ideas until she said that she had to invite people over to show off her stuff! Well, I thought, at least she was honest.
• We have someone else to promote, a deeper, more lasting reason to decorate and make memories for our kids. Instead of ivory polar bears and glittering silver balls, our focus is on a rough and uncomfortable stable where the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came down to rescue us! Don’t forget to invite Him in and let Him guide you through this season!