One way to counter stress during the Holiday Season is to build memories from the different activities you do through the time period. It can be family traditions or new holiday activities you try out. Keep a mindset of enjoying the Christmas Season instead of worrying over whether everything will be picture perfect. The Holiday issues of magazine Christmas scenes are perfect because they have a full film crew to make the scene perfect. So unless you have the money to hire a complete decorating crew don’t stress out if something winds up out of place.
We experienced a new Christmas activity at the middle of December when we enjoyed a jazz concert called The Gospel According to Jazz Christmas with Kirk Whalum, Keiko Matsui and Amber Bullock at Austin’s One World Theater. We went because of
Keiko Matsui, our favorite jazz pianist. She is so magical at the keyboards so I thought who better to hear doing Christmas music. We had never heard Kirk Whalum and I was surprised to hear he was the Sax player for Whitney Houston. He is an amazing saxophonist, but more so his sincere Christian faith came across to make the Christmas carols so much more from the heart and felt real. The best part of the concert for me was a rousing jazz rendition of Do You Hear What I Hear, where Kirk directed the audience singing in parts while the band jammed in the background. Having a music background it was funny hearing some of the audience who could not pick up on the syncopation. Kirk Whalum mentioned this was the first time for this concert series so they would be back in Austin next year. This is definitely a Christmas concert we will want to repeat next year.
On the concert front, we also attended the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s concert of The Lost Christmas Eve in San Antonio’s AT & T center. We had experienced them last Christmas and were so amazed at their musical artistry we wanted to hear them again. Even though most of the music was familiar just hearing the talented musicians and the compelling story of the Miracle of Hope and Change in the lives of people at Christmas was well worth hearing them again. I also appreciated hearing how wherever the troupe goes they donate some of the proceeds of their concert to a local charity.
Another important activity this Christmas was a Christmas program sponsored by a group my wife has been involved with this Fall. They are a group of Christians that work with youth in a nearby low income project neighborhood. They tutor the children, play games and teach Bible stories to them one night a week. They had the children do a program for their parents about the true meaning of Christmas -- the Bible’s Christmas story. Each child who came received a decorated shoe box filled with small toys and goodies. It was a wonderful feeling to see the children who do not have much appreciate their Christmas boxes and they put on a simple and clear presentation of the Bible story of Christ’s birth.
As I write this we are looking forward to our Church’s Candlelight Christmas Eve service this evening. That is always a time to reflect and build new memories of what Christmas means to me. There are numerous other ways to build Christmas memories for some it is baking cookies to give to others, (and of course do taste testing as they come out of the oven). Sending out Christmas letters it a warm way to connect with family and friends once a year, ( and I mean an actual old fashioned letter not a short tweet). Other activities are to look for local school and church Christmas concerts to enjoy the music of the Season. I am not a big shopper but I know that is something some people just love -- being out in the hustle and bustle of the stores trying to find the best buy. Other people enjoy watching their favorite Christmas movies every Christmas as a tradition. I remember when my mother was still living and I would be home from Chicago to visit her in Ohio, one of her favorite activities was to have me drive her around to look at Christmas lights.
The key is find those Holiday activities you enjoy and when you are feeling the stress; de-stress by switching over to the activities you enjoy. Enjoying the Christmas season and building memories for the future is more important and rewarding than being stressed over everything having to be perfect.
Reflection: List your three favorite Holiday activities. Is there anything new this year you enjoyed that is a new memory for this year’s Christmas Season? Write about it in your journal.