This is a guest post by Jim Martin, SJ.
Christmas is coming, and I’ll bet you’re starting to get a little nervous.
Are you already stressed about the endless gift list (not to mention the prices of those gifts), the lengthening Christmas card list, the overheated stores, the crowded airports, train stations, and bus terminals, and the car getting stuck in the snow?
Sometimes, with all the pressures of our consumerist culture, Christmas seems more like an ordeal than a religious feast.
So how can you move your Christmas from a secular pain-in-the-neck to a time of spiritual consolation? Here are three tips:
1.) Try not to be a perfectionist.
You don’t have to send every single friend or family member a card or buy them a gift. Resist the temptation to overburden yourself with a list of “shoulds.” Don’t “should” all over yourself this Christmas.
2.) Take time for yourself.
No one’s life will be ruined if you miss a party or two, or even a family gathering, in order to have some downtime. Instead, stay home and do something relaxing like listening to a Christmas CD. Pray a little bit. Read a story that reminds you of why you enjoy Christmas, such as Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Or how about John Greenleaf Whittier’s lovely poem, “Snowbound”? Or, forget reading or thinking—just relax!
3.) Enjoy Advent.
Ever read the daily Advent readings? They’re amazing, filled with beautiful imagery that will revive your drooping spirits. “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom” reads one passage from the Book of Isaiah. You could spend all of Advent thinking about that! Where are the deserts in your life that have bloomed? Which ones need to be watered by prayer and worship?
So Christmas is coming. As the angels said to the shepherds, “Fear not!”
James Martin is a Jesuit priest and author of the bestselling My Life with the Saints.