Put The Merry Back in Christmas

Episode #6

Parties, traveling, family and the overwhelming withdrawals from your bank account can leave you feeling stressed out and unable to enjoy the holiday season. In this episode we talk about a few strategies that have helped us alleviate the burn out and put the merry back in our Christmas.


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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Ashley
Welcome to rise up and shine. We are two women at different stages of life who have overcome feeling stuck, and are now living life fully with peace and joy. Join Us Weekly for a real raw and faithful conversation about our trials and triumphs, bringing hope, insight and weekly tips that you too can rise up and let your light shine bright.

Claudine, how are you today?

Claudine
I’m doing great. Ashley, how are you?

Ashley
I’m doing really well. I was just thinking about this time of year and hearing the jingle bells and all the Christmas songs on the radio. And it is a fun time of year. But it could be a stressful time of year.

Claudine
That’s right. And we’re seven days away from the big day. So how’s it going for you so far?

Ashley
You caught me with a deer in the headlights look, oh my gosh, seven days away? Am I ready? Am I ready? Well, I am holding up. Okay, I would say that this year is a big improvement from past years. Because this was usually an extremely stressful time of year for me. I have my daughter’s birthday party in December. I like to volunteer for our church’s Christmas program. And sometimes we have plays that you and I got to do last year together. And we learned a lot of lines. And I think even with the finance aspect of it, you know, it’s an expensive time of year. And it’s one of the times of year, the biggest time of year where my husband and I can kind of get a little on edge. You know, just because we’re spending so much my and it’s not just travel or Christmas gifts. It’s a birthday party as we have both of our car registrations due at the end of the year. So we have a lot of big ticket items that come up. And sometimes it’s you know, we need a new wardrobe in the sense of warm clothes, because it’s pretty cold here. But um, yeah, so that can be another factor. But this year, I’m doing really well, this year, I’m doing a lot better. What about you?

Claudine
Well, we’re doing things a little differently. This year, it’s time for our every few years, we go to Mexico, so this year that I for all the children Oh, great, but he gets the trip. And then we usually don’t do gifts. We’ll do some small stocking stuffers. So it’s a great, great time we’ve been doing this for, gosh, about 29 years, I was

Ashley
I was gonna ask because your kids are grown, but you’ve done it even when they were children.

Claudine
Right. And they love the trip so much in the early years, their aunts and uncles from Colorado and their cousins would all come out. So it’s a great trip. And they would rather have the trip than gifts. Then they would get stocking stuffers. And they were cute things but

Ashley
But they actually found the value in the vacation. Cuz that’s a worry of mine. And my husband’s with traveling. It’s like are our kids even aware of the extravagance, I guess you know of a nice trip like that. They don’t even value it. Are they too young to appreciate it? That’s pretty amazing.

Claudine
Well, I think because we went with family and they had all their cousins that they would really only see that Taya, we would go every two or three years we would do this trip. And so for them it was just such a fun two weeks. I mean, they looked forward to absolutely two weeks on the beach with 78-80 degree weather. So that’s always made it easy for us as far as those years when we traveled and we didn’t have to get caught up in a lot of gift buying.

Ashley
Oh, that’s great. Well, that kind of alleviates a lot of stress too when you didn’t have to buy presents those those years.

Claudine
Yeah. And we made a deal that we would buy our little stocking stuffers while we were down there in Mexico. So usually it was little trinkets, maybe sunglasses, right? jewelry. They’ll always love to get their name written on a grain of rice. Yeah.

Ashley
Yes, I was going to ask you that. I remember doing that too, when we would visit.

Claudine
So it’ll be easier this year. Although we have a grandson and he’s coming for his first time. But he’ll still get a couple of little gifts under the tree just because I’m you know, granny can’t help it.

Ashley
Well, I know one of my favorite memories as a kid was the stockings. The stockings were the our go to so that was what my brothers and I were most excited about. So that’s good. You still have the stockings.

Claudine
Yes, we have all our stockings.

Ashley
My niece, fun fact. She’s graduating high school in 2020. And she is at the point now she’s becoming an adult. So it’s her last stocking. She is really sad about it.

Claudine
We still give our adult kids stockings.

Ashley
Sorry, if you’re listening out there, my wonderful niece.

Claudine
So yeah, so Christmas can be a very challenging stressful time overwhelming time of year. That’s why we decided today to put together some practicals to put the merry back into Merry Christmas,

Ashley
Right to put the merry back in Christmas. Two years ago, around this time of year, the holidays, we had our daughter’s party, we also decided to plan a special birthday date for her the same night after her party. And then the next day, we had our Christmas program. And we are traveling that year to my family for Christmas. And so I had a lot of stress going on that year. And I remember coming out of it just shell shocked. I mean, the time passed by so fast. I didn’t enjoy it. Right. I felt like I got robbed. I really did. I felt my time and my joy from this time of year got robbed for me what happened. And then I decided, you know what, I don’t want to keep doing this. I am so sad that I did not enjoy this time of year that I needed to change something something needed to change because I was adamant The next year, I am going to enjoy this time of year.

Claudine
So what changed for you so that you could enjoy it?

Ashley
Number one, I had to remember what the time of year was about, right? The real reason for the season. You know, I mean, we get so consumed by the consumerism aspect of it, you know, I mean, the gifts, the parties, the the travel the finances, it can take away our perspective, and what are we celebrating for Christmas? Why are we doing this? Why is this a special time of year? And I had to get my focus back on that. Right.

Claudine
Ashley? You’re absolutely right. I think that is a great practical to remember what is the real reason for the season, even for so many of us even press believing Christians, we can get so caught up in the gift giving and the parties and the celebrations like you mentioned, I also have a child with a December birthday and can be really hectic. And just taking a few minutes every day to really reflect on the reason for the season. Maybe some of you are already doing that. And that’s amazing. But some of us get so distracted. And just taking a few minutes every morning to just pray to bring God into the overwhelm of our lives of this season to remember that it really is all about him and the gift He’s given us and not about all the gifts we’re looking to give to others.

Ashley
Absolutely. You know, this Christmas, I started to wake up early in the morning. Well, I had been waking up earlier in the morning before the kids because I need to have my time with my coffee and my Jesus. And I’ve been coming downstairs in the dark, I make my coffee. And so I sit on the couch and I sit there and I have the Christmas lights on and I kid you not I have the flashlight on my phone because I don’t want to turn the light on and destroy the arm behind. But I’ve been sitting there and just reading through the book of Matthew, and just going back to Jesus being born and even just prophesying about Jesus to come, you know, and the angel coming to Mary and to Joseph and just starting there and just kind of reading through the birth of Jesus in Jesus’s life because I want to have that perspective, this holiday season that it’s not about the gifts. That’s right. It’s not about perfectionism, either. That can be something that we’re going to talk about coming up. And it’s not about the stress. It’s not about the events. It’s not about fans. I mean, it is family is very important. But that’s not what we’re celebrating right time. It’s the time to celebrate one common thing together, which is Jesus.

Claudine
That’s right. You mean it’s not about all the holiday decorations. And the cookies?

Ashley
Well, I’ll be honest, we had to decorate a little bit of Christmas before Thanksgiving.

Claudine
Oh, you’re one of those?

Ashley
Yes, I am one of those. And I posted it very proudly on social media. I am one of those. Right?

Claudine
Well, let’s talk about that. That’s an interesting point you just made uhm choosing joy over perfection. And speaking of social media, it can be really challenging for me to scroll through social media and see everyone’s homes decorated for the holidays and perfectly clean, perfectly clean, perfectly decorated, perfect tablescapes Oh my gosh, everything and I am a recovering perfectionist. And this can really trigger my feelings of failing and overwhelm and just like oh my gosh, I can’t get it all together and make that happen this year. All my decorations have been in storage for the last few years. So I don’t even have them to put out. And it’s just been an interesting time for me to really wrestle through that to find the joy in the season instead of the perfection of the season, and not worry or fret that I don’t have it all together, quote unquote.

Ashley
Absolutely. So I am also, I don’t know if I would say I’m a recovering perfectionist, I’m working on it. But I did on becoming one. Having a healthy balance, let me say, a healthy balance. I feel like you know, striving for a little bit of perfection is healthy, you know, in a healthy manner. Right. But it’s a balance, all in moderation, right. That’s what I say about those holiday cookie all in moderation.

Claudine
That’s right.

Ashley
Well, I was thinking about performance. So performing perfectly. That’s what came to mind when you’re talking about perfection, you know, and I struggled with that for sure. And I didn’t realize until I sat down and thought about my thoughts. At this time a year what’s going on in my head? Yeah. Which is why I’m so overwhelmed and stressed out and just feeling miserable. This joy this time of year. I have the word joy all over my house. Right. But I don’t feel it. I don’t know where it is.

Claudine
That’s right, and love and joy. And somehow, but those are not always the feelings we’re feeling?

Ashley
No, absolutely not. So I realized that with the Christmas gifts. And my daughter’s birthday party, I felt like I was performing. I kind of had this performing mindset, you know, that I need to make it just perfect for other people. I wasn’t even when I was planning my daughter’s birthday party. It wasn’t even crossing my mind. How does she want it? What does she want at her party? It was this person’s going to be there. I think they like to eat this and this person is going to be there. I think they might enjoy drinking this, you know, and I would focus on the guest over my daughter. And so it puts so much stress and pressure on me to perform perfectly. Right. And I completely forgot about the meaning of why am I planning this birthday party because I want to encourage my daughter and her feel special. And that’s all you know, what do you want to eBay? What do you want to have there to drink? What do you want to do? But I was focused on the guests being there and making sure they weren’t going to feel comfortable? And it was as if I was predicting anything and everything they possibly would want at the moment, right? Which was crazy. I thought, Oh my gosh, I’m actually doing this.

Claudine
Yeah, I can imagine. But you know, that’s an interesting point, even changing our perspective. And not please everyone around us because we can’t possibly please everyone around us. And we can’t get gifts for everybody.

Ashley
That’s a fact. Right? I just want to be clear. That’s a fact. I can’t possibly please everybody.

Claudine
No, we can’t.

Ashley
Somehow we feel we can or we try to.

Claudine
Yeah, it’s not possible. I’ve tried and I failed. So I’m just here telling you it’s possible. But really to reflect on what is important. What would Jesus have us do for the holidays. And I do think he wants us to enjoy the season full of love, joy and peace in our heart is not about all the presence and the decorations and everything else. Although those are special and important parts of the holiday. They’re not the part of the holiday. Absolutely. I think another thing, another practical is releasing expectations, which we’ve kind of talked about, but expectations of what our house should look like expectations of the gifts, we should buy expectations of what people are expecting from us expectations of family and from family. That’s a big one in itself. I mean, in a week, many of us are going to be spending time with close family that we don’t possibly see all year long. And there’s a lot of expectations there on both sides. And that can be very stressful.

Ashley
Yes, you know, when I visit my family, we rotate holidays. So this year, we were with my in laws for Thanksgiving. And so we’re going to be with my family for Christmas and the expectation of how much time we spend together. And what my family of four can do together. And when we include the whole family or even events, I’m so used to visiting my family and every single day is planned out for me which I actually enjoy. Because I’m very indecisive. And I don’t know what do you want to do? I don’t know what do you want to do? And when we all four go down, there’s other people in my little family of four who have their own idea or expectation of what they would like to do or even maybe not do maybe they want to have a relaxing day I felt guilty even saying well my kids need a nap. You know I need two hours without anybody here. You know, can you guys all go home I love you but my kids need to nap. Something as simple as that. I had that expectation that oh my gosh, my family. I don’t want them to feel bad. I don’t want them to get their feelings hurt that I’m asking them to go Because my kids need a nap, you know, but I was going with that expectation. And so it was extra stress added on to me that I was feeling I need to please my family and not just take care of my kids basic needs.

Claudine
Well it sounds like you learned how to communicate what you needed. And you were able to.

Ashley
I’m still learning.

Claudine
But I think it’s helpful to be able to communicate with our family, hey, here’s some boundaries, or here’s my expectations, or this is what’s important to me. Sometimes we don’t do that. We just assume that they’re gonna know or they.

Ashley
That’s what I did. I literally, I assumed they’re gonna ask me, Oh, do your children need to nap we can go?

Claudine
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that Oh, I know, everyone would obey my rulebook. Right? Like, they just knew what was in my head. Right? Exactly. Life would be so much better, right. But that’s not the way it works. And so even communicating our needs, our desires, our wants, could be very helpful.

Ashley
Yes. And I learned with that specific example of the time with my family all together. And if there’s a need that comes up that I need to take as a priority, that my thought about it was, I might hurt someone’s feelings, that might not necessarily be true. But even if I did hurt someone’s feelings, which in that situation, really, that’s not going to hurt anybody’s feelings, they’ll understand. But if they felt hurt, or if it kind of made them sad a little bit, that I have to accept it and be okay with that, you know, I love you guys. My heart is I want to spend all the time with you, this is just a need that we need to focus on right now taking it take as a priority, but be okay that, oh, I might kind of I might make you feel a little uncomfortable or sad. But it’s okay. You know, we love each other, we’ll get over right?

Claudine
That’s right. That’s a great point. And, you know, it reminds me we’re talking about the families we are going to be spending time with. But this is a time of year to where it’s the first holiday without a loved one. And it can be incredibly difficult, it is a time of joy. But when we’re missing our loved one for the first time, or the second or the fifth or the 10th. The holidays can be a really painful time. It can be a time of sadness, and discouragement. And we don’t know what mixture of feelings you have this season sadness, joy, discouragement, anxiety. But the good thing is we know God knows God knows exactly what we are feeling. And he knows that our feelings change from day to day, moment by moment, hour by hour, because He created us to feel and accepting that this is normal, and not having expectations of feeling joy and peace and love. The whole season is really helpful.

Ashley
Yeah, it got me thinking about if we’ve lost a loved one, that we might feel the obligation to be positive and joyful for others, you know, we’re together with our family, I need to be the strong one. Right? You know, and I know that that can be a heavy weight to carry, you know, throughout the holiday season, especially if you’re in the position of hosting the family. I think when we’re all together, we can feel like we need to be strong, we need to be positive, I can’t feel these emotions of sadness right now and loss, because I have things I have to do and get done.

Claudine
And I think it’s perfectly normal and actually really healthy to take a few minutes every day, yes, or however long you need to really just sit with that feeling like I’m really sad, I miss so and so I’m hurting that so and so is not here with us this year, to really allow yourself to feel it to not squash it to not resist it or repress it, but to feel it and acknowledge it because it’s real. And the minute we acknowledge it and just let it go, then we can move on to the next feeling. It’s not like it’ll happen instantly. But when we resist it, it’s more intensified. And there’s nothing wrong with feeling the loss of a loved one during the holiday season.

Ashley
Right. And I was thinking even pulling someone that you have a great relationship with and talk about these things and just kind of pull them aside and say, can you talk with me in the room for a little bit and just share all that you’re feeling and you know, obviously, it’ll be family. And so this will be a person in both of your lives, that you can talk about how you’re feeling? I’m feeling sad, I missed them. I you know, and share all the things that you’re missing, be completely open and real and raw about how you’re feeling because that is the best way for healing. Right?

Claudine
Yep. And when we acknowledge it, it’s real. And that’s the beginning of being able to process and release it.

Ashley
So Claudine as we’re wrapping up,

Claudine
Oh, my gosh, speaking of wrapping that’s a lot to wrap,

Ashley
So speaking of wrapping up what is something that you are deciding to do in your own experience of this holiday season a practical that you’re wanting to apply? This time?

Claudine
I think, for me, it’s not getting stuck in the perfection of what my house looks like we are leaving a couple days before Christmas. So I have not decorated and I’m not decorated, I got a little $5 Mini Christmas tree. And that’s the extent of my decorating. That’s a huge thing for me, because decorating for the holidays is a really big deal. It’s something I made. It’s something I made special for my children all the years growing up. And even though they’re not home now, it’s something I want to continue. But I just chose this year, I needed to let that go. So there’s no decorating in my house. It’s very plain minus a $5 tree.

Ashley
And how do you feel about it?

Claudine
I am working on my feelings about it. I had to come to the thought change my thoughts that it that it’s okay. I’m not a failure as a wife or mother. And I’m not a bah humbug. Because I didn’t decorate. It’s just okay, this is a chapter. Next year might be different.

Ashley
Yeah. So now when you walk out of your bedroom, do you look at your non decorated at home and tell yourself? It’s okay. It’s okay.

Claudine
I do. It’s okay. And I just keep my vision on our trip. And I know I’m going to be spending, you know, two, three weeks with my children, partly down in Southern California and then partly in Mexico. So I just keep my eyes focused on what’s really important, which is time with family and not on the decorations.

Ashley
Excellent. So essentially, you replaced your thought about it.

Claudine
I did. I had to work on my mindset.

Ashley
Well, that’s great.

Claudine
It is. So what about you, Ashley? What practical? Are you working on this Christmas? We have seven days left? How are you going to keep from overwhelm? and stress?

Ashley
Well, I came to the conclusion Actually, this morning, I was thinking about it. I can go into it with the mindset, I can handle it. All right, I could do it all I could do the Christmas card, I could do all the gifts, I could do the family events, I can plan my calendar, I can do the birthday party, I could you know, I can’t I can’t, I can’t. But I overwhelmed myself. And so this year, I decided, I am going to say I can’t do that it is okay. And let something drop to the wayside. You know, so one of those things was the Christmas card. I that was something that I would do every year, especially as the kids were little. And it was stressful. And with the busy time of year with Bert, you know, coming out of thanksgiving birthday party Christmas program at church, traveling all that stuff. I learned there are things I can let go I don’t have to do I felt the expectation to do it in my own mind. And I also in my own mind believed other people are going to expect it. But I came to the conclusion that the Christmas card is something that is okay to let go of. And I will be okay. You know, we with social media, everybody sees my kids on there almost every day. It’s true.

Claudine
What I’m hearing is I need to come over to your house and take a picture of you and your family so I can stick it on my refrigerator. That’s what I’m hearing. If I want that picture. I’m gonna have to come take it.

Ashley
Will you be sad if you don’t get a Christmas card from my family?

Claudine
No, I won’t be sad. Okay.

Ashley
You know, we still love you.

Claudine
I do I still love. Thank you though.

Ashley
Okay, great. So see I feel at peace with that. That’s great. As Christmas is near approaching. I’ll leave you with these words from a good friend of mine Clark Gryzlov. Hallelujah. Holy cookies. Where’s the Tylenol? Oh my gosh.

Claudine
My friend. Well, on a more serious note, I will leave you with this blessing. May the peace and joy that Christmas springs always be with you and your family. We wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Ashley
Friends Thank You so much for tuning in with us today. We hope this episode has brought you one step closer to living the life you love. Until next time, remember the world needs who you were made to be.