I love, love, Christmas time. The lights, the music, and the excitement and happiness my children seem to have non-stop just leave me with a warm feeling. There is one thing that messes with my joy, though. This also happens to be the hands-down most stressful time of year for me. In the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and there are only 4 weeks this year! Aaaaaaa!) there is a seemingly endless list of things to do: A house to decorate, lots of gifts to buy, goodies to bake, parties to attend, countless rehearsals and performances for the girls, cards to assemble and mail, extra worship services to go to, and more. This is all in addition to the usual work and daily tasks that don’t ever take a break. It is no wonder that by the time Christmas break arrives I am exhausted and frazzled.
So what does MY stress mean for my girls? Well, don’t think that you can be stressed out as a parent and completely shield your children from the effects. Children are often acutely aware of their parents’ emotional states. They are wired for that sensitivity from birth. So my girls may not know exactly what is on my mind, but they know when something is bothering or overwhelming me, and it can make them feel anxious, sensitive, and/or worried.
Another way my stress effects them is that when I have a long to do list my energy and focus can become all about taking care of that list. Before I know it, it’s evening time, and I’m wiped out. One of my favorite sayings is “you can’t pour from a empty vessel.” When I am under stress, how can I pour into my children? You could say that a lot of the tasks I am doing are for them, but what’s the point if we aren’t taking the time to enjoy this wonderful season together?
So I will diligently work on my Christmas to-do list, but I will not let it take over. Maybe there might be a few less cookies made this year (unless the girls want to join me; then that would be fun!) Maybe there will be one less party I attend, or maybe I will simply take the step of making sure that I go to bed on time so I can keep my vessel properly filled. Whatever it is, I am going to do my best to keep stress from taking over. Because this is Christmas. It is a time of peace, joy, hope, and God’s unfailing love. It is a time for family and friends. So I wish you the most blessed and stress-free Christmas ever. (Whew, now I get to check one more thing off my list!)