3 Tips to Evade Christmas Robotism

Car horns blare, children wail and beg shamelessly in toy aisles, and lights are dutifully placed in their designated spots on the front lawn. When did the “peace and joy on earth” disappear from this time of festivities? I love Christmas as much as, if not more than, the next girl. That may be why it saddens me so much to see a magical time of the year become a duty for everyone to perform. Parties are hosted out of ritual with more stress than enjoyment to the hosts. Gifts are bought and distributed out of routine and pressure; when did joyful, selfless giving to those actually in need disappear under the deceiving name “tradition”? Since I know at this point you’re thinking it, I confess…I’m absolutely guilty of this! Amidst the Pinterest recipe planning and last minute shopping for Dad who’s always so hard to buy for, I am swept up into the duties of the holiday season. The spirit of Christmas may come in small waves as memories of celebrations past filter through the tasks, but other than that, I am slave to the To-Do list. I really only noticed the trend this year, so either I’m finally waking up to it, or this year is truly the first time I’ve become entrenched in the culture’s busying of the season. Either way, I finally notice it around me, and like usually happens when we notice something once, it is suddenly occurring all around us every moment. I see carts full of booze at the store being pushed by focused, conservative-looking couples. Do they have the money to be spending that much on a single holiday party and do they feel required to host it? Or do they truly recognize this is the only time of the year to get all their family and friends together, so they want everyone over to their home for a jovial time of reminiscence? It’s much too easy to be swept up into the day-to-day tasks of the holidays. For those who don’t want to become a Christmas robot, it may take a little work and mental determination to stave off cultures’ pressure, but it will be so worth it. 1) Traditions were made to be broken. That sounds a bit contradictory I realize, but we’re often thinking more about what we’ve done in past years that we forget to notice how much things have changed in the present. And it’s okay to change, add, or remove our rituals with the times. In my family we’ve maintained a tradition of having snack-y foods on Christmas Eve, like nachos, pigs-in-a-blanket, etc, reading the Nativity story, and then opening most of our presents. (Crazy, I know! We actually open most of our presents the night before Christmas and then just have the stocking for the morning…but, I digress). However, we would change up aspects of it depending on the year; one year we wanted to emphasize the fact that we were celebrating Jesus’ birthday, so we baked and decorated a birthday cake in honor of Him. Tradition comes in so many forms though, whether it’s consistently buying gift cards since it’s the easiest thing to gift, hosting that annual party since you have for over 20 years despite the fact that it wears you out, or using the holidays as an opportune excuse to drink away work pressure, insecurities, and sorrows. Change it up, and have fun with it.You and those around you might recoil from the alteration at first, but humans acclimate pretty quickly and it may be a much needed change to whatever tradition has given you Robotic Syndrome. 2) Balance the feelings of anticipation. Aristotle’s Golden Rule is awe-inspiring, and my close friend and I diligently work towards reaching it in every aspect of life. As silly as it sounds, we have to approach Christmas and the whole holiday season with a balanced mind. Have you ever woken up on December 26th with a bit of a heavy chest and numb mind? If you were hungover, then yes, you have, but I’m talking about a feeling more than a physical ailment. Disappointment. Deflation. A high expectation was only partially met; it didn’t fulfill every wish and desire of your heart. If you have never experienced that, congratulations! You’re already perfectly balanced. I, on the other hand, am not. And it has nothing to do with my circumstances, because I know I’m blessed beyond what I deserve since I live in such a prosperous nation. The problem is in my heart; there is constant discontent because worldly possessions don’t fill the need of a living, pumping-blood heart and human. So I keep my worldly eyes and greedy anticipation under constant prayer so that the true meaning of the season shows in my words and actions. And the true meaning is? (Continue reading for the reveal of this myth buster.) 3) Serve. That’s all there is to it. This looks different to everyone: some stand and ring a red bell outside of stores for hours on end, others put money in those little red boxes; some cook and serve meals at soup kitchens, others send extra money to their sponsor children in third-world countries; the list goes on. All are honorable, and I’m glad there’s a season where this action is emphasized. I only wish it was acted upon even more so than it is now. It’s the best way to get out of that “to-do list” mindset that’s easy to fall prey to. When you’re investing time, energy, and perhaps resources in another person’s life, the reason for the season is put into perspective, especially when you see the impact you make on their life by even a simple act. The only way I can really encourage someone to enjoy the spirit of Christmas, in all its craziness and excitement and family drama and duties and tasks, is to dwell on Christ. He fills the need in our hearts that pretty presents under the tree don’t fill, a full night of drinking and revelry don’t really make us forget, and crossing all items off the list to make others happy never meets. It starts small. Thank Him. Let go of control of something small in your life that you’ve been holding on too long and too tightly to. Trust that He’ll work it out in His timing and way. And thank Him again. When I ponder it, I realize how truly ungrateful I am for all He’s done in my life, or at least I just easily take it for granted. Changing my focus from myself, my petty wants and desires, to Kingdom-centered thoughts and actions leads to indescribable joy and peace. It may just be what He always intended for us. We now have to choose to think that way so our actions will follow. I wish everyone a very merry, cheery, non-robotic, and content Christmas season. Enjoy the precious time with family and friends. AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I’m ready to bring 2015 in with a bang, what about you? WOOT WOOT. stay lovely, the tall girl

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