Desert Streams would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and may 2017 be a Blessed and Prosperous Year.

As we look to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, we can often find ourselves with emotions and thoughts that seem to draw us away from the meaning and purpose of this season. Below are some thoughts to keep in mind as we look to family gatherings and celebrations:
1. We as people can sometimes struggle with seeing the positive in our relationships. As we get together with family and friends it can be helpful to be very purposeful in our thinking on the way to a gathering about the positive qualities in our relationships with family and friends, this sets us up to have a pleasant celebration.
2. As we endeavor to do step 1, there can be some very real challenging relationships in our family. It is important to recognize those, have realistic expectations about them, and set healthy boundaries with those individuals by either how much we share, how much we talk with them or even where we seat ourselves.
3. Remember that we don’t have the power to change family members, but we do have the power to choose how we will “respond” to them rather than just “reacting” to them.
4. If your family has experienced a significant loss either this year or previous years, give yourself permission to “celebrate” in a different way. Sometimes following tradition just because your family “always did it this way” can bring up more pain than necessary, let someone else host the party, or plan a different meal. Acknowledge the loss but give yourself permission to do things differently.
5. Monitor your stress level, life is busy without the holidays, work, chores, shopping, homework, and then we add parties, baking, and more shopping. A to do list can distract you from savoring this time and making memories, cut some corners on the baking (we have incredible bakeries in Kalamazoo–maybe Sweetwaters donuts instead of homemade cinnamon rolls), buy gift cards if you are getting overwhelmed, maybe not every decoration needs to go up, just a few favorites.
6. When you are with family members you haven’t seen in a while, be purposeful in relating to them. Don’t have the attitude of “getting through the holidays”, get to know them, ask questions, really listen to their answers, be intentional don’t be critical, and don’t bring up topics you know that you don’t see eye to eye on (i.e. politics) this serves no positive purpose.
7. Choose not to worry about how you might think things “aught” to be, accept things and people as they are.

Remember Jesus came because we are imperfect people who serve a perfect God. He saw our flaws but loves us so much He stepped out of the Glory of Heaven to show us how to love each other, how to have joy, how to walk in peace and to save us. Let’s remember this as we celebrate this wonderful Christmas season.

Respectfully submitted by Pam Stinchcomb, LMSW