Five Ways to Keep the 'Merry'
By Bob and Yvonne Turnbull
Special to ASSIST News Service
LA QUINTA, CA (ANS) -- It seems we just put the Christmas
decorations away a couple of months ago and -- Bingo -- it’s
time to put them up again!
Although this is a special time of year when we celebrate the
birth of our Savior, have you noticed it can also be a time full
of marital or family stress and conflict? To help the two of us
not lose sight of the ‘reason for the season’ we agreed
to be PROactive rather than REactive in the way we dealt with
Here are five ways we suggest you consider keeping the "Merry"
1. Discuss Your Expectations
Conflict often occurs in families when expectations go unspoken.
Talk about such things as to where you’re going to spend
Christmas. Your house? Your Parents’ house? Your offspring?
Your in-laws? If at your own abode are you inviting the relatives
over or seeing them another day? If you’ve been going to
your parents’ house for years, this may be the year you
decide to stay home. If so, make sure you talk this over and not
just spring it on each other, ohh, say, the night of the Dec.
22. Be in agreement and plan ahead.
This discussion should also include a talk about money, starting
with agreeing on how much to spend on gifts. Do you both set a
limit on each gift as well as your overall budget? Some large
families pick names and then buy for just a few people. If you
have children be sure you discuss a limit for them, too.
Money-wise, we have done something different lately. We realized
we were spending too much on ourselves and decided to give each
other a small gift. Then with the rest of the money we would have
normally spent on each other, we each do something with it --
such as donate to a ministry, or buy groceries for a less fortunate
family, or buy toys for a foster care child, etc. We then write
down what we’ve done and put it under the tree to share
with our family on Christmas morning. That has more meaning for
us than just a bunch of overly-expensive gifts that we don’t
really need anyway.
2. Start Some New Traditions
Traditions are a wonderful part of the holidays that make us
feel connected in our families. But this year you might think
of a new tradition to add to your others such as your family volunteering
at a nursing home or a homeless shelter. Or inviting to dinner
a family that is less fortunate than you and purchasing gifts
for the kids. Or writing a note to someone who could use appreciation
-- someone who is not often thanked -- someone who serves faithfully
without recognition such as a Sunday School teacher or a mail
A few Christmases ago, an extended family started a new tradition
-- renting a cabin at a Christian camp. Since it was the off season
they had the camp practically to themselves, knowing they had
to come self-contained. Their entire family took a walk in the
woods and gathered items to decorate a small tree. Then all the
adults created a treasure hunt for the children. In the evening
they walked to the outdoor worship center using flashlights to
guide their way. There they sang Christmas carols, set up their
Nativity scene on the altar, which was spotlighted, and prayed
together. Then Grandpa shut off the lights, and they were in total
darkness in the quiet woods, under the moon and the stars, with
God and each other. Later they returned to the cabin to exchange
gifts. The children shared their gifts with each other and did
craft projects together. It was a family Christmas to remember.
Could this be a possibility for you somewhere in your general
locale? (If it is and if you do this, let us know your experience
after the holidays .)
Don’t fill your days with too many activities. If you’re
rushing through your over-committed activities you won’t
end up enjoying anything you’re doing. One thing we do as
a family is set limits on what we will do during the holidays.
That means deciding what activities you will and won’t be
involved in. Pray and ask the Lord to guide you in all of these
decisions. Sometimes a well-thought-out “No thank you”
is better than saying “Yes,” and then regretting you
accepted when you attend the event. And in scheduling your time
leave some days open for spontaneity or quiet reading of holiday
stories, especially biblical ones.
Make sure one person is not overburdened with all the preparations
for Christmas. Get everyone in your family to pitch in with preparations,
shopping, wrapping, cooking, setting the table, cleaning up, etc.
(Side note to husbands: If in the past your wife has been the
main one to take care of all the holiday season details, be ready
and enthusiastically available with a willing and helpful attitude
to serve her).
4. Spend Time with God
In all the busyness and rush, be sure to spend time with Jesus
through meditating on His Word and praying to God in His Name.
When we spend time with Him, others often sense His presence in
you and can be drawn to Him. What a great gift to give to others.
When we talk about prayer, try this: While wrapping gifts, writing
Christmas cards, baking cookies, pray for everyone who will enjoy
them. While shopping, pray for the other shoppers, the cashiers,
etc. You get the idea.
5. Treat Yourself Nicely
Too often during holiday time we eat way too much food, especially
sugary sweets. Too many people don’t get enough sleep plus
totally neglect any form of exercise. No wonder so many people
get sick after the holiday season. Plus when you neglect yourself
you don’t have the energy to give out to others. This year
try to limit (we didn’t say exclude) the sweets. Make sure
you are eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, and drinking
LOTS of water. Get plenty of sleep as this will keep your immune
system healthy to flight off colds and flues. Also make time for
exercise. A brisk walk will help -- at least five days a week.
Exercise will chip away at those extra holiday pounds and help
relieve some of the stress.
May you have a joyous Christmas and a blessed new year!
Bob and Yvonne Turnbull are a husband-and-wife speaking team
who speak on relationships (primarily marriage and family) at
churches, conference centers, and colleges throughout the USA
and Canada. For ten years Bob was internationally known as The
Chaplain of Waikiki Beach and prior to that was a Hollywood actor
with a credit of seven motion pictures and 41 TV shows. Yvonne
was the health nutritionist for two years on The 700 Club
TV program for CBN. Between the two of them they have authored
nine books with their latest being TeamMates: Building Your
Marriage To Complete, Not Compete. They live in the Southern
California desert near Palm Springs. For more information visit
their Web site, www.turnbullministries.org.
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