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Two Lies that Wreck our Holidays

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a Christmas "Moment"
a Christmas "Moment"

A Christmas “Moment”

It’s the first week of December and I already feel I’m way behind. And if I’m honest, there is a corner of my heart that is already a bit disappointed. Because I know, deep down, no matter how hard I try, my Christmas will not look like the holiday I long for.

Friends assure me I’m not alone. So where does this let-down feeling come from? And how do we get rid of it and reclaim our joy?

I think we start by identifying the joy-stealing lies that slip into our thinking.

Lie #1: Christmas is supposed to be “perfect”

We all have a picture in our hearts of what the holiday season is “supposed” to look like, don’t we?

Then there’s reality. We take our already crazy schedules and add all the holiday “must do’s.” Budgeting and shopping, baking and parties, decorating, practices, meetings and utter madness.

Until somewhere, in those quiet moments before we fall exhausted into bed, we wonder where we went wrong.

I think joy slips out the back door when we buy into the lie of a “perfect” holiday. There is no such animal and trying to create one will make us crazy and steal our joy.

Let’s ditch the expectations and realize nobody gets a perfect Christmas, not even the Son of God. I’m sure giving birth in a stable wasn’t Mary’s idea of the perfect setting.

Lie #2: Assuming everyone else’s life is card-worthy

I admit it. Hallmark commercials make me cry and their movies are generally a two-hankie special.

But here’s the thing. We watch the movies and commercials and get the idea that somehow, everyone but us is living these amazing, perfect, card-worthy moments. Every. Single. Minute.

Meanwhile, we’re racing around, sucked into the constant, never-ending push to do more. Bigger. Better.

Can we just stop? Just stop. Breathe.

We can’t possibly live a never-ending stream of perfect moments. We’re setting ourselves up for heartache if we try.

Some years, Christmastime is harder on our hearts than others. Financial setbacks. Job loss. Illness. Death. Family struggles. Broken relationships. We all deal with them at different times, but never is the glaring contrast between what we wish for and what we’re living more apparent than during this season.

So let’s think smaller, not bigger.

Focus on moments, on the pockets of joy in the midst of the insanity and madness.

Be present. Be aware. Look for those moments.

Jesus’ mother Mary understood this.  Amidst all the crazy stuff happening in her world, despite her fear and uncertainty, twice the Bible says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19, 51)

I get that. I have mental snapshots of those unexpectedly perfect, never-to-be-repeated-or-forgotten moments that I tuck close and treasure. The ones I remember when plans go awry and the house is too quiet.

If you’re in a good place this holiday season, look around for someone who needs a hug, a card, a few cookies, a helping hand. Hug family and friends every single time you have the chance.

If your heart is hurting this season, please consider yourself hugged. You are not alone. Join me in looking to the star in the East and turning our hearts toward the imperfect manger that held the perfect Son of God.

That’s where LOVE reached down and HOPE was born. The same HOPE that still whispers, “You are loved.”

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If you’re looking for a fun Christmas-y read, I hope you’ll read my short e-book, The Christmas Gift . You can get it FREE if you sign up for my newsletter, or order it for $.99. I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it.

Oh, and I have a super-fun new project in the works I can’t wait to share with you! Details will be in my newsletter first, so I hope you’ll sign up.

And if you enjoyed Angel Falls, can I humbly suggest that Brooks and Regina’s story would make a great Christmas gift?

Until next week, enjoy moments…and look for pockets of joy!

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    The Conversation

  1. Marti Pieper says:

    “Think smaller, not bigger.” I love that, Connie.

    This speaks to me in a season of writing craziness and not as much holiday activity time as I prefer. I also remember years where Christmas was more a sigh than a celebration.

    Thanks for this reminder to choose the better part.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Thanks, Marti. It’s a reminder as much for me. I can miss the quiet of the forest for all the pretty, shiny trees! Here’s hoping you have some fabulous moments this Christmas…

  2. You are so right, Connie! Every year I downsize Christmas more and more. And I’m much happier for it.

  3. There is much wisdom in your post. When I was about 40, I decided to stop the insanity. No more marathon shopping trips. No more overspending and overscheduling. I told my family to save their money or give me something handmade. I would do the same. I trimmed my gift list considerably yet have added more charity giving into my holidays. Giving a gift to a stranger in need is the ultimate demonstration of the spirit of Christmas. I also discontinued my long-winded Christmas newsletter, replacing it with a photo Christmas card. The picture is worth a thousand words. Yep. That’s Cheryl. She’s still alive. LOL I savor the church activities and get-togethers of the season, but I don’t attend every party. Christmas isn’t about stress; it’s about joy.

    • Connie Mann says:

      I love that, Cheryl : “Christmas isn’t about stress; it’s about joy.” A great, great reminder!

      My long-winded Christmas letter is down to a line or two, as well. Just a photo? Hmmm, that just might be next. 🙂

  4. Lorna Dishman says:

    What a perfect article this time of year! I think with the holidays our expectations are higher, which can lead to greater disappointments. Concentrating on the “pockets of joy” is what truly counts. It’s things like my mother’s recent cancer-free mammogram after her surgery two years ago or the look of love on my husband’s face towards our daughter as he teaches her to paint. I need to remember these things when we’re late getting our tree up again, and I can’t afford to give that special gift for that special someone. Thank you Connie for sharing the truth about the holidays.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Lorna, I got all choked up picturing some of your family’s recent pockets of joy! Yes, those are the moments to cherish, to hold close and remember forever! The rest is just trimmings… 🙂

  5. R.E. Mullins says:

    I use to expect my Christmas holidays to resemble a Currier & Ives print. Of course they didn’t. I ended up feeling abused because I did all the gift buying, wrapping, decorating, cleaning, cooking in prep and then faced all the clean-up. The children squabbled in that over stimulated way…finally I got a clue. After that I did less and expected less and we were all happier.

    • Connie Mann says:

      I am so glad you and your family were able to dig through all the excess and find and focus on the things that really matter! Yes, everyone, it is possible to do less, expect less and all be happier! Thanks for saying that. 🙂

  6. Jan Jackson says:

    Thanks for this, Connie. When my children were small, I moved heaven and earth to make the magic of Christmas happen every year. I think my son still half believes in Santa. But lately, it’s become much harder for me. There are faces missing around the table and my children are all grown up. I do have a grandson, and I plan to spoil him, but it’s for his mom (my daughter) to pass on the magic I shared with her. I’m ready to pass the torch. =) And I needed a hug. How did you know? Hugs back and hope to see you Saturday at the VCRW X-mas Party!

    • Connie Mann says:

      Adjusting to a new season in life, passing the torch, as you said, can be both freeing and hard, because those magical days aren’t coming back. But it can also mean the start of new traditions, room for new pockets of joy in our lives! Thanks for the hug, too, and I’ll see you Saturday! Looking forward to it!

  7. Ilona Fridl says:

    Connie, I ditched the perfect Christmas a long time ago. Just sharing an evening with family is perfect enough for me.

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