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Keeping Your Sanity for Christmas

Posted on December 4, 2018 at 7:50 AM

Photo by Caley Dimmock from Freely Photos.

I have to say I’m not in the holly, jolly mood this year. It has been stressful trying to balance work, finishing our house, and prepping for Christmas. First, I had hoped to decorate our house for Christmas because we would be moved into it. There have been crazy obstacles getting to the finish line on this project. It is difficult for me emotionally to decorate our apartment yet again. Second, chronic pain and fatigue make me evaluate what I do and how much. All that I accomplish must be deliberate. And third, we just came home not long ago from visiting with family for Thanksgiving. If you are like me, recovering from Thanksgiving AND heading into Christmas is a lot for anyone. Whatever you are facing with the holiday season (that is, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years), I've learned some things the past few years about holiday burnout. Here aree a few tips I've discovered to help you keep your sanity:

  • Simplicity is your friend. I’m used to going all out for holidays from the meals to the decorations to the cards and get-togethers. My first husband’s mom taught me a lot about this principle. I learned to consider what is truly important and what won’t break the value of the holiday. Make a list of your Must-Do's and Would-Like-to-Do's. Mark a 1, 2, or 3 beside these items on your list-- 1 being an absolute, gotta do, 2 being it would be really nice,but... and 3 if it doesn't happen, the world won't end. Re-evaluate that list as you work through it. You might find you have too many 1's, so re-figure as you go. Add 2's in as you find the time and energy. If 3's are important to others, then let them handle doing those. Delegate some of your tasks, but don't dump tasks onto overloaded family and friends.


  • Cut down the amount of decoration. Figure out what is truly important to you and your family then what you consider to be simply the icing on the cake, so to speak. That might mean leaving your tree decorated in storage, covering it until you need it, then simply placing it where you want it. Instead of making a bunch of decorations, if you prefer homemade, support a special needs workshop by purchasing one or two decorations while you help these great individuals with a ton of talent. Do you need a wreath on each window or will just one on the front door work? Re-evaluate your decorations to recover your sanity during such a stress-filled, wonder-filled time.

  • Make food less of the center of attention. I grew up with an amazingly, complex meal served on special dishes. When I got married, I tried to do the same thing and went crazy. I still like to do this, but I've cut back so I can enjoy the company of friends and family. If you normally make an elaborate meal, what if you only supply the main dishes and meat, and allow others to bring a hot dish and cold dish to share? This has worked great for me. Another option is to order the meal from your local grocery or restaurant. All you have to do is pick it up and serve it. Disposable plates, eating utensils, and cups make clean-up a breeze. 

  • Go for the electronic greetings. E-cards are a great way to whittle down your card mailing list. Of course, not everyone uses email, but many do. Email the ones you can. There are some great online card groups like,,,,, and several others. Some are free while others have a nominal charge or an annual membership fee. Keep your snail mail cards simple. If you normally send a Christmas letter, like we have, you could just send it or just the cards. Your recipients will appreciate your sentiment any way you choose to do it.


  • Go great, but go simple with gifts. I am a gift giver at heart, but fibro makes the shopping part hard. I've learned to simplify and amplify my gift giving by buying an especially desired gift for each person within my budget. Keep your gift list short with only those people who you believe you should buy a present for. Gift cards are a great way when your time and energy are next to nil. Also, ordering online and having a gift shipped by the online store will save you a lot of steps. Don’t feel obligated to give a gift just because someone gives you a gift. Simply saying, “Thank you! It was very thoughtful of you.”

  • Keep a regular routine on non-holiday days. Get your sleep, exercise, and necessary tasks done. Eat healthy to keep yourself energized. Do whatever you need to do to care for your own needs. Taking care of you will help you have the wherewithal to take care of your famiy.

  • Remember why we celebrate. Christmas is all about Jesus and our adoration of Him. It's not about Santa, or gifts, or food, or glitz. Stay focused on the reason for Christmas and keep your relationship with Him well fed. When you feel guilty about not falling for all the hoopla, remind yoursel that Jesus was born in a cave with a bunch of animals, placed in a carved out stone watering trough. His baby clothes were rags they found laying around in that stable. It was no Ritz-Carlton Hotel! This was certainly no big to-do from a human perspective. God took care of the details by sending a choir of angels and an amazing star to decorate for the coming of our Messiah. He sent amazing men of faith to be His birth announcements. We can't outdo God with celebration of His Son. Do only what is important to you and your family to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

May God's great love warm your heart and bring you joy during the Christmas season. Bask in the glow of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Discussion starter: What one tradition do you feel is important to do for Christmas?

Categories: wellness, health, special health conditions

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