Have you ever noticed how we tend to be creatures of habit for many areas of our lives? We do it with what we eat, what we wear, what we do with our time....sometimes it is so comfortable that we slip into autopilot. For some areas of our lives, though, there can be things that produce anxiety, and lots of it.
For me, this time of year is one of those areas. Those of you who have been reading my posts here, or who know me in person (and what kind of roller coaster ride my life has been the past 20 years), know that this time of year has perennially overwhelmed me. Part of it is from the incessant commercialization of our Christmas season, which detracts and distracts from celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus. The other part of it stems from the dysfunctional feel of my family dynamics. Participating in extended family gatherings became increasingly stressful over the years as my children grew older, to the point where I just wanted out of it all. I didn't want my family's internal problems to be the reason everyone else's fun took a nose dive. I longed to be like so many other families who enjoyed being with their relatives who also enjoyed being with them, celebrating with food and fun and time together. I longed to be the house where everyone would want to come gather, where I could do my Italian girl thing in the kitchen and love on everyone with home cooked food, etc.
But this year, when the annual email circulated among my sisters & I, regarding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and gift giving parameters, one of my sisters challenged my knee-jerk reaction of dreading the topic. I'm glad she did, too, because for me, this year of 2015 has been one of many changes. My journey with Jesus isn't restricted to just this year, but my faith has certainly grown. I changed up my health & fitness habits in June. It would be more accurate to say that I created health & fitness habits when I purchased my first challenge pack & began a Beachbody workout program. That change transformed me in multiple ways, and it motivated me to become an entrepreneur & join their coaching community. More change. It's scary and exciting at the same time.
Fast forward to early fall, and my special needs son moved out. He didn't just move out, he moved away to begin his life outside our roof. A 15 hour car drive away. A huge change in the family dynamics. A tremendous leap of faith in a number of ways.
Now here we are at the end of November, and I just cooked Thanksgiving dinner where only 1 of my children was home for the holiday. More change. My son will not be here for Christmas, either. So many things have changed, so why not my knee-jerk reaction? Why not choose a different path that replaces anxiety with peace and joy?
So, that is what I am choosing to do this year. I am choosing not to let this time of year overwhelm me anymore. I am choosing peace and joy. I am acknowledging and accepting that change can be a good thing. It's not always bad. I am going to focus on why we celebrate Christmas and not worry about the commercialization, because I can choose my participation level in that. I am not going to stress anymore about not being able to host a big family gathering. Perhaps one day I will be able to, or maybe I won't. But why not choose peace and joy in the here & now? That is the whole point Christmas is the celebration of the birth of peace and joy!