Category Archives: Advent

Christmas Season Self-Care

This is our second year of Christmas under pandemic restrictions. There has been much news and talk about how to prevent catching the big “C”, but not as much has been said about remembering to take care of your overall body-mind-spirit.

Pandemic life is extra draining. There are concerns about following or not following any mandates that are inplace; figuring out how to turn down holiday invites; and trying to gently let loved ones know you won’t be joining them in person for the holidays out of concerns about public health.
Self-care during the holiday season is important, these are some ways to tend to your body-mind-spirit this holiday season.

Turn Off the News
It’ll be alright if you don’t watch, read, or listen to the news for a few days. What is the worst that will happen if you turned of the news for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (in Canada)? If you need to know road and weather conditions for safety reasons, there is always the weather network and Google.

Limit Social Media
The holidays is a great time to limit or take a complete breaks from social media. Again, what are you missing out on if you are not on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for two days?
This is a great time to watch or catch up on television series, going to a movie, maybe go for walks, go ice skating, read a good book or magazine, or play board games; engage in anything that your interested in that doesn’t involve social media.
You can always wish people online a Happy Christmas on the 24th and sign off until Christmas day is over.

Take A Nap
The holidays can be a great time to sleep in even if your internal alarm wakes you up at 6:30am thinking it’s a work day. Or reverse it; stay up later than you normally would and use that time to engage in meaningful activities, hanging out with friends and family, or anything that you normally wouldn’t be able to do when you have to get up early for work.

Paying Attention to the Foods and Drinks You Consume
I’m not advocating that anyone diet during Christmas; that’s an instant killer of holiday joy. But I will say that it’s important to be aware of how much alcohol you consume if you can’t hold your liquor. No one likes to be stuck with an annoying drunk, even if it’s family. Be mindful of any health issues you have. If you’re diabetic, remember to stick to your routines. Your body doesn’t give you an exception for get togethers.

Get Outdoors, Get Moving
It’s easy to spend all day in doors eating, talking, and sitting around, but it’s a good idea to get some fresh air. It’s easier to get up and get going if you have an activity planned: going for a walk, snowshoeing, ice skating, or attending outdoor events.

Know When to Say Goodbye
Constantly being around people can be draining and sometimes frustrating. Know your limits. If you know a head of time that you’ll be around people who drain your energy, establish a time limit before hand. Let them know you’re only visiting for 3 or 4 hours. Decide how many days you can realistically handle spending at your families home.
Christmas is not meant to make you miserable and unhappy. That is not how Jesus wants you to spend the day that is meant to honour his birth and arrival here on earth.

Prayer
The irony of Christmas is that it evolved into a commercial holiday rather than a religious holiday. Make time for Jesus. This goes beyond going to Church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Take time to personally reflect on the year.
How have you seen God’s presence in your life?
Beside material gifts, what are you most thankful for this Christmas? Make room for one-on-one time between you and God.

Thanksgiving and Advent: Our Double Blessing

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30

Back-to-back holidays (in America, Thanksgiving and Christmas) doesn’t leave much time for people to rest and take a break. It can be a mad rush to get ready for Thanksgiving with travel, shopping, seasonal events, and get togethers; and things don’t stop until the new year when everyone returns to their regular daily grind. But if we as Christians slow down we can use the Thanksgiving weekend as a time to begin the Advent season with a spirit of gratitude.

Consider using the Thanksgiving long weekend as a time to prepare for the upcoming weeks of Advent. Beyond giving thanks for your family, friends, and the material goods that you have; how have you seen God at work in the very troubled world that we live in? Give thanks.

If you haven’t already, consider making intentional time to be engaged in Advent reflections this season.

Advent has 3 components: past, present, and future. We can give thanks for all three stages.

Thank you, Lord, for your first arrival and being the much needed and anticipated light and hope in the midst of darkness.

Thank you, Jesus, for your spirit being with us in the present.

Thank you, Jesus, for your promise to return. We live and wait with prayerful anticipation as we live in your kingdom come.

Christmas Season, Take It Easy

This year, the first of December marks the beginning of the Advent season. This marks a time of spiritual preparation before Christmas. The lights of advent remind us that we are called to be light amid darkness and that we are people of faith, hope, love, joy, and peace.

One of the best ways to be the light in the midst of darkness that we are called to be,

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:24-16

I will admit that I have not always been light amidst the darkness, in fact I know I’ve instead been the darkness. When I look back I’m able to see that one of the main reasons for my being moody, overly anxious, impatient, and less than cheerful has been a result of being overwhelmed with the holiday season. Too many Christmas potlucks, too many persons to purchase gifts for, too many get togethers, and way too much decadent foods that leave me with sugar crashes and fatigue.

Tired Eleves
Copyright: Spoonful of Science

During December it can be easy to forget that we can and maybe need to take some time for rest and solitude. We don’t have to RSVP “yes” to every invitation, especially if it comes from someone you see regularly throughout the year. We don’t have to give a gift to everyone we know. And we don’t need to send a physical gift to all the names on our lists. If you feel stretched for time, a great “present” is gift cards. They are available online and you can also grab some quickly while at the grocery store or gas station.

People love to invite others to Christmas parties that are actually potlucks. If you want to go but dread having to slave away in the kitchen multiple times during the month of celebration, then consider picking up a fruit tray from the grocery store, or a few dips like a seven-layer dip. You can even bring nachos and salsa; these are party snack foods that people love all year round.  Don’t know how to bake, but you’ve been assigned to bring a dessert? Make use of local bakeries, let them do the work, they love it and appreciate your business.

Thomas Kinkade
Thomas Kinkade, artist.

Jesus hasn’t called us to be fatigued, tired, and overwhelmed when it comes to getting together with others. He knows that we need times of rest and rejuvenation.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” Mark 6:30-32

 

Enjoy the festivities of the season, but remember, the one of the best things you can do for yourself and others is to be aware of how much you can handle.

 

 

At Christmas, Free Time is Precious

The Christmas season involves a lot of food, not just any food, but good food! Plenty of drinks, lots of baked goods, and appetizers galore.

I can’t complain about the abundance of food, I enjoy it as much as the next person. I enjoy consuming these festive treats, but I certainly don’t enjoy making them. I, like many other people in my age group and demographic, are more likely to purchase ready made goods rather than make them at home.

Photo by: Helen C athcart

I enjoyed making apple cider this year, but I cheated. I started off wanting to make it from scratch, but the recipes seemed time intensive. Who knew making a beverage could take so much time and so many apples? I decided that my free time was more important than the end product. I have a feeling there are others who feel a similar way.

I believe food is absolutely necessary at any Christmas get together or function, no food, no fun. Others would argue that alcohol is necessary as well, but I don’t drink, so I will peacefully disagree on that point.

All this to say; don’t feel pressure to make home made goods for holiday parties. If it is less stressful for you to go into a bakery or grocery store and walk out with everything already prepared, then go for it! After too many stressful holiday seasons trying to fit in festive events, I learned that I enjoy Christmas much more when I’m not having to spend too much time in the kitchen.

I have to continue watching how much I eat because all my weight loss and discipline can be easily lost to the mindless eating that occurs when hanging out with others. I intentionally make an effort to bring healthier treats and food to gatherings. The last thing I want to do is waste mental space worrying about how much I’m eating and what I’m eating. If food consumption matters that much to you, bring some tasty fruit and vegetable dishes to potlucks; there will always be people who want healthier options as well.

My desire to save time by purchasing ready made items extends to crafts and decorations as well. If making hand made Christmas decorations doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of department stores selling items to suit every taste. I eventually got rid of my Christmas crafts board on Pinterest, it was too tempting. They were great to look at, awful to make. If craft making leads to frustration, then give it up. Again, the idea is to make the best use of your free time and energy.

As a child I remember stringing popcorn for the tree. It was a fun activity as a child, but as an adult, I know that I’d rather eat the popcorn. What I find more exciting is going out and purchasing decorations. I save both time and money as well.

Don’t forget to have fun during the holidays. Time is precious and vacations at Christmas is short for most of us. Allow that time to be restful, fun, and fulfilling; only you can define what that is.