8 ways to survive Christmas

First published December 24, 2012

1. Be grateful. Some of us are in incredibly difficult, life and death struggles. The rest of us aren’t. So sit for a moment. Write thank you notes. Even to God.

2. Lower your expectations. We want Christmas to match some ideal. It might be the ideal from a TV movie. It might be the ideal from our childhood. It might be the ideal that we never had. But Jesus was laid in a manger because there was no room in the inn. And he lived homeless, died shamefully.

3. Raise your expectations. But in that manger was Jesus. In that human body was, somehow, God. And then Jesus consistently talked to people no on else would. And they realized that this was someone different. And in that shameful death, even one of the guards realized this was God.

4. Stop trying so hard. I spend energy trying to make things perfect, trying to make me perfect. I forget that I can’t control everything. I can’t be everyone’s savior. I can’t even be my own. And the energy spent is energy wasted, attention diverted from reflecting on how there might already be a Savior.

5. Try harder. I could have better habits, not to save my life, but to live it better. One less self-medication, one more conversation with God.

6. Sing. We don’t sing enough. Singing helps physiologically. It slows our thinking to the speed of the notes. It takes us from prose into poetry.

7. Weep. People hurt. This is the first Christmas without someone for many people. This is the last Christmas with someone for others. Stopping to listen to hearts that are breaking and weeping with them is a gift.

8. Be expectant. Being grateful doesn’t mean we can’t expect more. To beg God to do something, and to be open to be part of it.