Unhappy Holidays

Christmas is coming! I'm sure you're full of joy and jubilation! Your tree is trimmed, your stockings are hung, and all that's left to do is sit by the fire with a glass of eggnog. Christmas is the most peaceful time of the year. 

If that describes you, then you're in the minority!

For most moms, the weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with long lists, busy schedules, and stressed emotions. You swing back and forth between excitement and overwhelm as you work hard to create the best Christmas experience for your family and friends.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to create great memories and keep traditions alive, but sometimes all of that "stuff" we do creates discontent and bitterness in our hearts.

If you're feeling a little more "bah humbug" than "happy holidays" this season, it's time to get to the root of the issue.

Three Things that Will Steal the Joy from Your Christmas

1. Distraction

Distraction can take many forms, but what it does is take your focus off of what's really important in the moment. It could be an emotional distraction: feeling shame about your past choices, feeling defeated about the current moment, feeling worried about your future. Or it could be a mental distraction: planning far ahead without giving attention to your present, burying your nose in a book for hours, keeping your eyes and your thumbs on your phone. It could be a physical distraction: rescuing someone in trouble, stepping up your exercise game, traveling the world, working on a big project.

What distracts you isn't always a negative thing, but it becomes negative when it takes you away from what you should be doing.

Take a look at what is most important to you and compare it to what is getting your current focus. Spend time intentionally enjoying the experience of the Christmas season and less time on all the other things that don't bring you and your family joy.

2. Comparison

If you're feeling bitter about everything on your to-do list, then you're likely caught in the comparison trap. Are you doing what you're doing because you want to, because it brings you joy, because it honours the traditions that are important to you?

Or are you doing things because that's what other moms do? Or because that's what Pinterest shows you? Or because you feel like you're not good enough unless you do x, y, z?

"Comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt

Christmas will come whether or not your tree is perfectly decorated and your cookies are all baked. If you're a Christian, then you already know what Christmas is really about. Keep it simple and strip away everything that isn't really important to you and your family.

Stop worrying and stop competing. You'll be much more content when you let go of comparison.

3. Guilt

Guilt is a big issue for women, and especially moms. We feel guilty if we can't buy our kids the best toys, we feel guilty if we don't create the perfect Christmas memories, we feel guilty if we're not doing what all the other moms are doing (ahem, comparison.) Heck, we feel guilty if we do even the smallest thing for ourselves!

A recent example I've seen of this is parents hopping on the "Elf on the Shelf" train. A lot of parents and kids are loving this! It's fun and creative. But other parents are doing it begrudgingly because they feel like they need to do it in order for their kids to have the same experiences as their friends. It's not a benefit to your family and your Christmas if you feel like creating memories is a chore.

It's time to let the guilt go.

It doesn't mean you can't want more for your family and for your Christmas, but it does mean you examine your heart and your motivation. Ask yourself: "Am I doing this because I want to or because I feel like I'll be a bad mom if I don't?"

You're a good mom. Don't make decisions based on the false belief that you are not.

It's not too late to shift your focus and your attitude. Spend each day being intentional and focusing on what matters most to you.

I pray that each one of you is filled with hope, peace, joy and love this Christmas!

ChristmasTaryn Nergaard