I hope you can read this ok, ’cause I had my tongue in my cheek the whole time I was typing…
The key to a truly stress-filled Holiday Season is always keeping in mind these two goals:
- To impress. Everyone. But especially those you don’t know.
- To Meet All Expectations. Especially of those closest to you — the Higher the Better.
At no point should you shift your vision to how you can worship God more fully in this season. Definitely worship People and Things.
Here’s a helpful list of the Top Ten Ways to Build and Maintain Stress during the next month. Print and tape to your fridge (you also may find it helpful to keep a copy in the car to review at red lights.)
1. Out-do Yourself Whenever possible, choose gifts that require heavy investment in both Time and Money.(ie. create handmade gifts that use expensive materials you can only pick up across town) The key to achieving a high stress level with good staying power is to maintain the idea that the best gifts come wrapped in packages, and take more out of you and your bank account that you can realistically afford.
2. Increase Media Be sure to spend extra time in front of all kinds of media to keep you pumped up about the latest and greatest gifts for everyone on your list. Beware of spending too much quality time with the ones you love, getting to know them and their heart needs and how you can uniquely bless them this month. This can eat into your Media Time and Shopping Time! (see above).
3. Bake It All! Try to spend at least 4 days a week slaving in the kitchen till 11pm to make all the great holiday recipes you’ve come across in your Media Time, as well as all the family favorites. The lack of moderation and added sugar of these holiday treats will be sure to add as significant stress to your body as the preparation of them does to your schedule.
4. No Permission! – Avoid the word “permission” as in, permission to scale back, shorten lists, cross things off the list before you’ve done them, to say ‘no’, or to un-obligate yourself gracefully from anything that adds stress. Permission destroys stress.
5. Forethought is Bad – Do not get at least a general idea of the gift you’d like for an individual or the amount you can afford to spend before you go shopping. Planning ahead destroys stress.
6. No Records! – be sure to rotated your purchases on at least 3 different credit cards so you’re never quite sure how close you are to your credit limit, nor how much you’ve actually spent total. Cash should only be used when purchasing a little something for yourself in each store you go into, and that latte needed for extra energy.
7. Planning – Poor Idea! At no time should you sit down to collect your goals, ideas, and lists all in one place, like a binder or tablet. This is over-thinking things! Be spontaneous in your effort the pack as many activities and tradition into the holidays as possible. The only time I advocate taking a moment to ponder is about 3 days before Christmas when you should ask yourself if there’s anything you’ve forgotten that you really should pack into the next 72 hours. If you’re not frantically wrapping gifts late into the night on Christmas Eve, you know you’re over-organized.
8. Decorate – Everything. Follow the urge to decorate every room in the house. If last year’s decorations aren’t enough, or seem out-of-style, head out for more! Remember, it’s not about creating familiar family traditions and an atmosphere that welcomes – it’s more like a competition to make it on the cover of Martha Stewart. Don’t forget plenty of outside lights and decorations, too! The neighbors and strangers who drive by will appreciate that you’re not the only one in the neighborhood without lights.
9. Continue the Tradition! Don’t forget the importance of making stress a continuing tradition in the years to come. The ticket is to cultivate materialism and expectations to your children. If done well, by the time they’re in their teens they’ll have learned well how to celebrate the season and you’ll never see them ’cause they’ll be out shopping for all the people on their list, and working extra hours so they can make the minimum payment on their credit cards.
10. Just Say It. And finally, the simplest way to add stress to the season – just go with the flow and say “Happy Holidays” like everyone else. The word ‘Christmas’ can be an nagging reminder of the real reason we celebrate.
I hope this has been helpful…have you got any more tips for adding stress to the season? *wink*
Come back tomorrow for my all-time worst (best!) tip for simplifying Christmas!