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How to Create a Plan That Will Overcome Christmas Stress

Spread the Christmas Cheer Without Too Much Work

The chaos of grandchildren tearing through wrapped presents and the boisterous gaiety around the overflowing dining table was over. It took two days of cooking and baking and two hours of gift wrapping for our large family with all their new littles. And now, it was over. Just like that! Where did the cheer go? The kitchen was a warzone. Piles of dirty dishes were arrayed in multiple stacks of varying grossness and there was no dishwasher. Christmas was defined as being a lot of dreaded work. The mountain of endless handwashing was the straw,actually, the bale of straw, that broke the camel’s back. 

A Crisis

Our home was now quiet again with just “us two”. It was late and well past our usual bedtime. I couldn’t leave the dishes overnight. My husband couldn’t stay up another minute. As you can imagine, an argument that left me in tears and him in anger seemed to be the grand finale of what was supposed to be a wonderful day. 

Tears rolled down my pitiful face as I filled one sink with hot, soapy water. Then I heard the bedroom door open and footsteps behind me. My dear husband had come to help me after all! My heart melted but I was still feeling sorry for myself. We hugged. I cried some more. He grabbed a dishtowel and together, we tackled Mount Dish Kilimanjaro together.  

The path towards a plan for a truly cheerful Christmas

I don’t remember if we talked about it that night or the next day but something had to change. I had decided that we would never have formal dishes to feed twenty people again. It would be just fine to eat off of paper plates. But, he loved the table to be set with nice dishes so, he agreed that he would help with the dishes from then on. Well, THAT lasted one time! He experientially saw the error of his ways and ever since then, we have been using paper plates. (Teehee!)

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The back story

Those dishes meant something to me. Twelve years before the eventful night, I had the foresight that, one day, we would need a whole lot of dishes for Thanksgivings and Christmases. I believed that our family of nine would surely swell to overflowing with spouses and grandchildren one day and I wanted to be prepared for enormous dinners. Our grocery store had a deal that, if you purchased so many dollars worth of groceries, you could get a deal on a dish. It took me many weeks to accumulate enough plates, cups, saucers, bowls, dessert plates, platters, bowls, butter dish, sugar dish, and veggie bowls. Yeah. I had every last detail to be proud of. Besides. It was the Blue Willow design that my own mother had used when she did all the superwoman preparations for us too. 


How to Stop Working Too Hard at Christmas Time

The night when I imploded is long gone. The dishes are still in the hutch, needing a good dusting once a year. Oddly, they continue to add to my life story. The good news is, those “things” are not so important anymore. But they are a comforting reminder of how plans and insecure needs to outdo everyone can be peacefully exchanged for a better plan. 

The better plan is to plan ahead with my “Kids” (guests) and gleaning ideas about fun things that bring the cheer back into Christmas celebrations. No more long days of baking and cooking and mountains of dishes to clean afterwards. The menu is leaner but there is still plenty of food. But, it’s more than that. The focus on what’s important has shifted.

Trade control for trust

Now, so many years later, I understand that the pile of dishes was an exercise from God that caused me to learn that it’s ok to give up my own plans. It caused “trust” to grow deeper into the depths of my heart. For me, there were two very important aspects for a cheerful Christmas.

The choices were few but very important: 

  • Keep doing all that work year after year and becoming more bitter with each passing holiday
  • Open my heart and learn how to discuss things with my husband-without tears and without arguing. 
  • Be willing to change. 

Begin with a plan

What is the first thing you would like to change? It may help to start with these words, “I wish that ______________ was _______________ instead of _________.

I have a handy workbook to help you bring cheer back into Christmas. It’s a great planner that helps you delegate AND it helps you to reflect on what is most important for you and your family. Subscribers get it FREE! Subscribe Here


Sharing responsibility is a good thing

A concept that equally important is “reciprocation”. For me, with my personality and all, sharing responsibility means that I need to lay down my pride and the need to control the schedule (and the menu). I no longer have to be super mom/grandma who can do it all-always on the giving side, never needing help. It was hard at first. It felt scary, really and truly, it felt scary to no longer be Queen of Everything. 

The beauty of giving and receiving is laced through every relationship we have. I learned a lot through that small crisis that tripped a turning point. The fear is gone. That crisis is now just a memory, a part of my story. It’s a chapter that speaks of God’s love and how He works in ways I wouldn’t have thought of. He does that because He loves me and wanted me to be free of the fear of not being admired. 

Everybody helps now

The long-term result is an especially happy one. As the years go by, I am doing less and less to prepare for our large family gatherings. That’s a good thing, because, after all, the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be! Our adult children take turns hosting the event and everyone brings part of the meal. And. We use paper plates! 

Is your lifestyle one that is too busy, even when there isn’t a special event happening? Do you want to get off the wheel of “busyness”? You will enjoy this article: How to Stop Being So Busy.


Help for chaotic holidays

What about you? What was your wish?

First, consider this:

Do you have a need to always be in control? Do you suffer from over-commitments? How do you react when life takes a sudden turn. When a crisis happens, how do you navigate through it? Do you become bitter? Do you make everyone around you miserable? 

If you answered, “yes” or “maybe” to those questions, have you ever wondered why you do that? 

What if it was God stirring your heart, making you upset so you would turn to him when you finally understand that you can’t do it on your own?

Here’s something for you to try:

If you will pause and ask God how He sees the situation, you may find out that it’s actually God doing a work in you! God knows your heart better than you do! Open your heart and ears today. Listen to what He’s showing you. 

You could say something like this: “God, I’m so frustrated. I feel like I’m going to explode. I can’t get it all done by myself and I don’t know what to do about it. How do You see this?”

Then, listen. Be still and listen. Then do whatever it is you know in your heart that He’s telling you to do (or not do). Trust Him with the outcome.

Here is a short prayer to say and remember when chaos wants to take over your life. “Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.” Psalm 16:1


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What if you had could make a plan that would be perfect for you and your family so that this Christmas isn’t too much work?

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To experience freedom, take the first step and express as deeply and as honestly as you can with God through prayer. Ask for the courage to take the first steps. Remember, God gives wisdom to those who are His and ask. 

Debbie

A photo of the author, Deborah Schreffler

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.Mat 6:33 CSB

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1 thought on “How to Create a Plan That Will Overcome Christmas Stress”

  1. Your personal story Debbie, really made an impact with this article. It is so true that sometimes we have to live through the hard things to see what we really need. Your faith in God showed you the path and life is much different for you now and your family on special family gatherings. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences to bring light to similar things that so many people live through. It’s like a spark-an “a-ha” moment. Thanks!

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