Christmas: The Birth of our Savior

December is the time of year where we as Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus coming to earth as an infant-God in the flesh among us, intimately acquainted with human suffering, struggles, and joys. This is also the time, where we connect with family and friends, sometimes out of an authentic closeness to them and sometimes out of obligation or a little of both. It is the time of year where there is often a felt expectation to be cheerful, and joyful, which at times fits for some of us and for others it is a time of year that brings with it a fresh sense of loss, grief, or sadness.

Here are a couple thoughts/suggestions from therapists here at Desert Streams to encourage you this Christmas season:
1. Endeavoring to not sound too cliche, but remember the reason for the season–Jesus came to earth. He left heaven to restore, redeem and pay the penalty for sin. He is our Savior, our source of Peace, our Counselor, our Friend–during this month, make sure you set aside time to pray, worship and connect with Jesus.
2. Sometimes we need to create a new way of doing things, to leave old habits and hurts. Make your own traditions that will bring the true meaning of Christmas alive to you and your family.
3. If a family member has recently died, find a way to honor or commemorate them while being together (ie–make their favorite dish, play their favorite Christmas song, decorate with their favorite color, etc).
4. Create purposeful time for fun and laughter. Play games at get togethers that mix the generations–something young and older can connect and have fun with. (ie Christmas pictionary, Bingo, Christmas gift wrapping game)
5. Remind yourself that sometimes this season just brings us sadness. It’s ok, talk with someone about how you are feeling, pray to the Lord about where your heart is, do some art journaling, allow an outlet for the emotions.
6. Sometimes it is helpful to be reading a daily devotional to keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas and not get caught up in the materialism of it, one example is Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift.
7. Make cookies with your family or friends and deliver them to police or fire departments.
8. Adopt a family to buy a Christmas meal for and Christmas presents.
9. Donate to the local food pantry.
10. Choose simple, make the peace of Christmas a priority. Guard against over scheduling or over extending yourself. If you can’t make all the get togethers, try scheduling a dinner get together for January or February instead.
11. Take a drive and look at Christmas lights–pack up some hot chocolate and play Christmas music.
12. Be purposeful to eat right, have a plan before a party of what you will be eating and drinking(ie how many cookies, having a plate with plenty of vegetables and fruit along with protein), make sure you fit in some exercise also. Heavy eating, lack of exercise and lack of sun light in MI can all have an affect on our mood. Prioritize taking care of your physical body.
13. Be mindful of how much you and your kids are on social media this season. Social Media can be a great way to say Merry Christmas with others, but it can also leave us feeling “less then”, empty, missing out, etc. Use wisdom and find authentic ways of connecting with others.
14. Attend your church’s Christmas service. If you are not plugged into a local church, this is a great time to ask friends, co workers, family where they attend. Then choose a church to go to, but don’t stop there, commit to attending church for the first 90 days of 2019, and then see what God does in your life and in your heart–you may just find you have found home.