Christmas is almost upon us, and if ever there was a season of soul-draining striving, Christmas has become that. I feel exhausted just thinking about all I have done, and I still have some things to do before the family arrives. I love my family, and I love my husband’s family established before we married. There is nothing like stepfamilies and the complexities we have created to add stress at this time of year. How can we nurture our souls? How can we stay in touch with that part of us that either makes these days a pleasure or a pain?

Hallmark

Hallmark is claiming to be the most watched channel last weekend. (12/15-16/18) My husband and I had to ask ourselves why? Every movie is predictable; they often use the same actor and actresses in all their movies, and they have too many boring advertisements that stretch the film to almost crazy lengths.  We are also addicted. We laugh because we have seen so many of them so many times we don’t know why we continue watching.

I wonder if we all long for the Christmas portrayed in those movies. They speak of healing of relationships, the inclusion of the outcast, a realization that life is about more than striving and the reason for the celebration is always highlighted by the carol, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King.” An awareness there is more to Christmas than Black Friday injuries, going in debt, Christmas light competitions (although, there is a little of that in the movies)

Don’t you wonder where that town is where everyone gathers at the town square or park for the lighting of the tree in a beautiful spirit and ready to clap and gasp as the lights come on and love is always in the air? Is that what we are really longing for at every Advent?

Finding Hope in the Rush

Have we given away the true love and hope of the season for the search of the perfect gift? Have we forgotten our heart because we have instead joined the competition of the season?

A few years ago my brother-in-law and his partner invited the whole family over for an evening before Christmas. They were very talented decorators, and they had the money to buy what they wanted. Walking into their decorated house was breath-taking and just like walking into a Hallmark movie. Everything was perfect. I was intimidated. I couldn’t compete with that and wouldn’t know how. My husband’s and my celebrations were very simple but loving. It was a simple country Christmas, and I became embarrassed by how simple it was. We stopped having the kids over for the day and instead had an open house so they could stop and get their gifts as their schedule allowed. The second year we offered the change one of my husband’s daughters asked why we didn’t have the usual celebration. I told her our celebration paled in comparison, and I felt embarrassed. She said, “We love coming to your house for Christmas!”

Maybe Dr. Suess was right. Perhaps Christmas is about more than the glitter and gifts. Maybe Linus has the best thoughts for Christmas, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us, a Gift is given…..” Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.

 Soul Time

It’s been said that ten minutes in nature does more for us than a massage or a spa treatment. A Russian once told me if I was cold in the winter, it was only because I didn’t know how to dress. So, if you live where it is cold this season, dress warm and go outside. Listen to the birds, notice how the trees and plants look, feel the breeze or wind, examine an icicle. If you live in the city, get out to the country away from the hustle and artificial lights. If you live where it’s warm go enjoy. Let a sunset speak to you. Hear the song in the trees or the rush of an ocean wave. Add your own music and allow the beauty of your soul to be your guide. You deserve a deep breath and a rush of blood to your tired soul. (not too deep of breath if it’s below freezing!) Let the stress of your life roll off your shoulders and skid away in the breeze like a dry leaf. Can you hear “heaven and nature sing?”

Let the inspiration of nature be your sedative. Let nature remind you of the story of Christmas. You can read it in Luke chapter 2 in a Bible.

Your Call

If you don’t like my suggestions, what do you suggest to nurture your soul during the stress of the season? Do you have plans to nurture your soul and see hope and love? Giving of ourselves to feed the needy, to provide gifts for a needy family, packing bags for the homeless so they know they are not forgotten are all great ways to revive our souls — your call on how you refresh your soul but don’t forget to give yourself that gift.