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Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Your Christmas Joy

By Dena J. Dyer
Guest Columnist -

"They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness" (Psalm 145:7, NIV).

What does hearing the word "Christmas" bring to your mind? Caroling and joyful family reunions—or last-minute gift searches and fights with your teenagers?

As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve had many celebrations that fell short of my expectations. That 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. Really, what’s the worst that can happen if I don’t have a perfect tree, a ten-course meal for all my relatives, or a stunning Christmas card (that I got in the mail by Thanksgiving) to 500 of my closest friends?

However, 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 people (me included) often harbor.

So what are we busy wives and moms to do? First, we need to see through God’s eyes and give ourselves, and others, mercy and grace. That’s what Christmas is all about, anyway—God’s giving us mercy and grace in the form of a swaddled infant.

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."

Finally, we need to recapture the awesome love and immense hope found in the Christmas story. Then—and only then—can we 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."

Lord, help me to let go of unrealistic expectations and, instead, focus on celebrating Your goodness this season.

More Devotions on Spiritual Life

More from Spiritual Life's Christmas Resources

Copyright 2001 Dena J. Dyer. Used by permission. Dena Dyer is a freelance writer, speaker and musician from Granbury, Texas. Visit her Web site at:


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