Do you ever pause in the December madness and ponder the demands of this time we set aside for peace on earth and goodwill toward men?
We squeeze programs and special events into the shrinking schedule, creating a painful time crunch. We run through December at a frenetic pace, arriving at New Year’s Eve exhausted and asleep, long before the ball drops in Times Square.
Mix in the annual money crunch with the countless gifts that need to be purchased. Many adherents of Christmas practice reciprocal giving, and feel obligated to match every gift. One child, watching Mommy’s daily rush, offered this prayer, “Forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us.”
Sprinkle the whole December dish with an emotional crunch as we face expectations that we participate in certain gatherings. Dinners must be planned, prepared and served. Extended families may expect us to visit or host a visit, and someone will be missed in the travels. The only thing heavier than the pounds we pack on munching goodies is the crushing load of guilt.
Men, have you felt the chill in the air as your spouse struggles with seasonal stress? Would you like to help restore sanity to this runaway holiday? Perhaps ponder, “What’s best for my marriage this season?”
May I offer some suggestions?
1. Sit down with your spouse, pen in hand, and discuss Christmas. Invest time in prayer at the start, and ask God for the wisdom He graciously makes available (James 1:5). Cover such topics as time commitments, spending, and travel plans. Record decisions, and follow up with affected parties. Remember, no raised voices during the discussion. The goal is to build your marriage, not to win every point.
2. Learn to say “no”. Any evening with 4 possible activities demands prioritization. Pick the top choice, and decline the others. Be the bad guy if needed, and take the heat for the decisions.
3. Mark planned events on a master calendar visible to the entire family. We adhere to the 24 hour rule—any event not approved and on that calendar 24 hours in advance is automatically rejected.
4. Set a budget and stick to it. Christmas hit so hard in the early years of our marriage. Our solution was to add a monthly budget item to try and set aside money to cover Christmas gifting. It may be too late to use this idea for 2013 but plan now for next year. Watch out for those credit cards. Use them only as a substitute for cash and set aside the money as it is spent. There is nothing like the arrival of a huge credit card bill on December 27TH to dampen the festive mood.
Gear up. Grab some items from the “to do” list and get them done. Show your wife she married a hero. Let her see your selflessness as you help her bring Christmas in on time and under budget. You may wind up with rosy cheeks, a smile on your face, and a “Ho-Ho-Ho” whispering from your lips.