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Special Section's Christmas Celebration

Don't Let the Grinch Steal Your Christmas Joy

By Dena Dyer and Laurie Barker Copeland
Guest Columnists

CBN.comWhen I say the word “Christmas,” what do you think of? Chestnuts roasting, caroling and cheerful family reunions—or frantic shopping trips and fights with your teens?

As a part-time working mom and full-time recovering perfectionist, I’ve had many Christmas celebrations that fell short of my expectations. Each led to disappointment, discontent, and sometimes depression. (Not a great way to start the New Year!) But now, I realize that perfectionism is a dangerous hobby—a Grinch who can only steal my joy if I let him.

Here are seven common holiday expectations, or ways the Grinch makes himself known, followed by the more-common realities.

7. You will present your co-workers with carefully crafted homemade ornaments.

Reality: You spend your last pre-Christmas lunch hour running to Blockbuster for gift cards.

6. Your kids will gleefully help you decorate the tree while the family listens to Bing Crosby croon “White Christmas.”

Reality: The children throw tinsel on the tree in clumps, while bouncing to the beat of Beyonce.

5. Your godly children will gladly buy toys for poor kids in underprivileged countries.

Reality: Eight-year old Samantha wants to buy a sucker for the needy child while she buys herself a “Happy Holidays” Barbie.

4. You’ll make festive cookies for all the neighbors and package them in gaily-colored cellophane, topped off by a “Reason for the Season” tract.

Reality: When you see the neighbors packing to leave for their vacation, you begin to bake--and then realize you need to borrow half the ingredients from those same neighbors.

3. You’ll lose thirty pounds to fit into the black party dress you bought three years ago (and have never worn).

Reality: The diet went great until you started baking cookies!

2. The extended family will play Monopoly until the wee hours while exchanging funny stories.

Reality: Two out of four families decide to spend Christmas skiing. The third family gets snowbound in their hometown. And the fourth family nearly comes to blows over which bowl game to watch.

1. You’ll send personalized Christmas cards—with gorgeous photos enclosed--in November.

Reality: You can’t find the cards you bought on sale, so you end up sending a New Year’s postcard.

So what’s a busy working mom to do? I can’t stick my head in a hole for three months and ignore Christmas. Besides, I really love the season—I just don’t care for the unrealistic picture of perfection that so many of us harbor.

First, I believe we need to see through God’s eyes and give ourselves, and others, big helpings of grace. Women, especially those of us who work outside the home, are amazingly gifted at heaping burning coals of guilt on our own heads. Guess what? We don’t have to be Mother Theresa, Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray all rolled up into one. Besides, who could live with or be near us if we were that perfect?!

Second, we need to ask ourselves who we really want to please—others or God?

In Lion and Lamb, Brennan Manning says: “Letting the expectations of others act as a subtle but controlling pressure on our Advent preparation and Christmas celebration is people-pleasing enthrallment.”

When I'm honest with myself, I realize that I often live for other people's approval. I let the praise of others and the critical voices in my head drown out my Creator’s whisper. But whenever I make the time to be with Him, He says: “Child, you don’t have to rush around in endless circles of doing. I love you just the way you are."

By slowing down enough to listen, we focus on Christ—and that’s the final step towards banishing the Grinch for good. As we remember the awesome love and immense hope found in the Christmas story, we can plan a celebration full of meaning and joy.

Manning says it best: “Christmas means that God has given us nothing less than Himself and His name is Jesus Christ. Be unwilling to settle for anything less . . . Don’t come with a thimble when God has nothing less to give you than the ocean of Himself. Don’t be contented with a ‘nice’ Christmas . . . Pray, go to work, play Trivial Pursuit, eat banana bread, exchange presents, go caroling, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, and do all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

More from's Christmas Celebration

Dena Dyer and Laurie Barker Copeland are authors of The Groovy Chicks' Road Trip to Love (published by Life Journey, an imprint of Cook Communications Ministry). To learn more visit the Groovy Chicks' Web site.


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