For many of us, the holiday season is a time that is anticipated with both joy and anxiety. Sure, we love the celebrations, the family traditions, and we cherish the memories of holidays gone by; but along with them, we add the stresses of preparation, expectations and the fear of letdowns, or family squabbles that we have experienced in the past. In a real sense, many of us are looking straight into the face of the holi-daze, not the holidays. With this in mind, here are five tips I feel can help make for an enjoyable, meaningful Christmas season in 2015.
1. Set manageable expectations. Spend some time now setting realistic and manageable expectations for your holiday season. Start by understanding that you can't do everything. So, be realistic and upfront about what your family can do. Make a list of what is possible and prioritize your most important events and activities for you and your family. Then, pace yourself. Keep in mind that it's the holiday "season" (not "day") and spread out your activities to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
2. Acknowledge the past, but look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season of life is different. Determine to enjoy this holiday season for what it is. If you find that this year has been a rough one and you don't anticipate having the best holiday season ever, try not to set yourself up for disappointment by comparing today with the "good old days." Take advantage of the joys the present holiday season has to offer.
3. Do something for someone else. One of the ways we can demonstrate that we are grateful to God for His many blessings is to help others. There are always people who can use a helping hand. So, enrich this holiday season for your family by getting involved in serving others.
4. Enjoy a family holiday tradition. Traditions provide opportunities to keep your family's legacy going. They create meaningful memories. So, from the silly to the sentimental, if your family has established Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions, if possible, be sure to include them in your holiday activity plans.
5. Spend money responsibly. The holiday season always brings with it a big temptation to spend lots of money on Christmas presents for your family. Don't be afraid to say no to this temptation. Here is some good advice for every family: Don't spend beyond your means and don't rack up significant credit card debt! Don't forget that come springtime, your kids may well have laid aside or forgotten those expensive gifts, even while you're struggling to make the payments. Decide now to be financially responsible this Christmas season!