De-stressing at Christmas – in the closet

Patti Richter

Some people trim their Christmas tree after Thanksgiving dinner. They head out early on Black Friday and do all their Christmas shopping by day’s end. They have their family-photo-Christmas-cards in the mail by Dec. 1.

Then there are the rest of us.

We pull out our Christmas boxes and let them incubate for days, as if they’ll hatch elves to do the decorating. We notice the neighbor’s holiday wreath and we jump into action, hanging a few strings of lights on our porch rails. The cheerful glow lulls us into thinking we have a handle on the holidays.

But our Christmas cards remain in boxes. Beside them lies the first draft of our annual Christmas letter, wordy and braggadocios—we’ll need to fix that.

Our self-imposed expectations greet us at every turn. But they don’t say ‘Merry Christmas.’

Whether we sparkle our way through the season, or sit cross-legged, deciphering Christmas tree assembly instructions in mid-December, we might have something in common: STRESS.

We can be tempted to throw in the holiday towel, hang a wreath on the door and leave town for two weeks. But since Christ is the reason for the Christmas celebration, we might ask that worn out question:  What would Jesus do?

The Lord may not care much for our traditions, but He cares for us. The question is valid because Jesus knows and cares about how we feel. He had overwhelming times, dealing with a world of expectations when he walked the earth. He was bombarded with the “wish-lists” of the multitudes and continual interruptions.

A close look at the gospel accounts reveals the source of Jesus’ staying power. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed (Mark 1:35).

Jesus had the habit of slipping away to get alone with His Father. He emerged doing things like walking on water.

God doesn’t expect us to climb a mountain to pray. He recommends we go into our closet (Matthew 6:6)—a private place.

Christmas celebrates Immanuel:  God with us. In His presence our minds can be redirected and our priorities reset if needed. We can receive the strength and peace we need for holidays and every other day. In Him we can find what we need most—right in our own closet.

 Blue Ribbon News special contributor Patti Richter works as journalist, writing news and feature stories, book reviews and more for many Christian publications. She lives in Heath with her husband Jim. 

Read more by Patti Richter:

September 11: God is Our Refuge

In a dry and thirsty land

Of Snakes & Pumpkins: even a perfect fall day is made better with prayer

A lesson in forgiveness – just in time for Thanksgiving

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