You know that magical feeling that seems to be in the air around Christmastime? We often talk about the excitement around Christmas with gift giving and Santa coming and the extra kindness and generosity that comes with the season. I think that magic that we're feeling this time of year all comes from love.
We want to create and participate in that magical experience of Christmas (that tangible sense of being surrounded by love) and that's what motivates us to do all that we do this time of year: we shop for gifts, bake cookies, plan special meals, fill our calendars with parties and gatherings with the people we love, sing in choirs, attend performances, go to church, do service for others, and the list goes on and on! Some of you even coordinate the antics of an elf on the shelf in the midst of it all!
Right next to all of the joy and excitement though, I've noticed a lot of talk about the stress and busyness that overwhelms us at Christmastime (especially from Moms and Dads). We have huge lists in our minds of all of the things we want to do at Christmastime, to help ourselves and our loved ones to feel that magic, the love, this season. All of our well-meaning efforts to bring as much of that love into Christmas can invite a lot of stress and strain at the same time.
As parents, so much of what we do (at any time of year) is motivated by love. If you're anything like me, you also find yourself thinking about all of the things you tried to do or should have done, and all of the ways you aren't doing well enough. It can be so discouraging!
In the past, as I've experienced some of these thoughts and feelings about Christmastime and about love and our desire to bring more love into our lives and the lives of those around us, I've been a little troubled by the stress that so often comes with it for so many of us. Over time, I concluded that the way to manage that stress is just to be careful about managing our time, saying no when we need to, and just doing our best and letting go of the things we can't fit in. This year, I'm also finding myself thinking about how I want to be able to serve others and bring love and support to those who need it. I wonder how I can really manage to do that when I know from experience that our struggles aren't always visible. I wish I knew who I could help and how best to do it.
As we've gone about our days this December so far, we've been listening to a new Christmas CD in the background. It's a collection of beautiful, original piano arrangements of Christmas songs. It features several other artists, bringing in other instruments, vocal arrangements, and a choir on some of the songs. We've had it playing in the car as we've driven to church for the children's Christmas choir practices, we played it when we decorated our Christmas tree, and while we baked cookies to deliver to some of our friends. I wanted to share a little music video with you from this album because I love the message in the visual story that goes with it: that each of us really can make a difference to the people around us. We don't always know that we're making a difference but I really believe that if we're focused on loving others, we'll manage to do it.
I think that's what this music video portrays. The song is O Come, O Come Emmanuel from the CD A Sacred Christmas by Garth Smith:
Christmas exists because of the birth of Jesus. Jesus taught us to love others. He wants us to feel love and I think He often helps us to feel love through the actions of other people. If we're focused on being kind and loving to others and realize that we don't have to do anything more than we're able (even amidst the busyness of Christmastime); we will touch others and in turn, we'll feel that love at Christmastime.
How are you doing this year with balancing your to-do list? How's the stress level?
Have you found an approach that helps you keep the stress in check and still enjoy the magic?
If you're interested in the CD I mentioned, the "A Sacred Christmas" album is available at GarthSmithMusic.com, Deseret Book, YourLDSMusicStore.com, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, etc.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the CD so I could share my thoughts about it with others. All opinions shared are my own.