The cues are in place for the countdown:
- Summer ends
- Kids back to school
- Football fires up – High School, College and Pro
- Weather getting cooler
- Leaves turning colors
- Put away the shorts and sandals and break out the sweaters and jackets
- Baseball finally ends with an exciting World Series
- Halloween with the dressed up neighbors and a candy splurge
- The short and dark days of daylight savings
- Christmas songs start playing on the radio stations (for those of us who still listen to the radio)
Now’s the awesome stretch we call the holiday season with annual milestones called Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and ending with New Years Day. Then we ring in another year, starting with the dog days of winter, that will hopefully end with another Holiday season.
The holiday season, along with summer, are my 2 favorite times of the year. November and December bring so many exciting elements activities, wonderful memories, and powerful meanings. But, if we aren’t careful, and we put life on autopilot, this mad dash will lose it’s magic, be problematic, or can actually become pretty dangerous for some.
I wanted to give you 7 tips to help you get a good running start (not literally) into this holiday season, maximize the enjoyment of Thanksgiving, and most of all, avoid becoming the Thanksgiving turkey.
- Your body is a temple where God can dwell; respect and steward it well – Don’t spread yourself too thin. Take care of the basics and make sure you get the appropriate amounts of sleep, nutrition (not overeating), and hydration (water) to allow your mind/engine to run efficiently. Stay away from alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and caffeine, and carve out some recreational time for yourself.
- Love your neighbor as yourself – Find the balance between looking out for the needs of others and tending to your own needs. Avoid becoming so doting on kids, spouse, and others that you neglect yourself and become run down. At the same time, don’t get so caught up in your lower-importance “wants” and categorize them as can’t-do-without “needs.” Put others first. Be sensitive to their struggles or needs.
- Prioritize the spiritual elements of the holiday – Bottom line, Thanksgiving and Christmas are about God and His amazing love and grace He showers on us each day. Be thankful, humbled, and grateful. Don’t be entitled, arrogant, complacent, and lock yourself in the dungeon of ungratefulness. Each day through the end of the year, spend some time with God, thanking Him and asking what you can offer back in gratitude.
- Be thankful for the opportunity to have a family and a place to go – We don’t get to pick our family. God picked them for us. I’m not saying we have to be with all of our family at the holidays. Some families can be hurtful, a negative influence, or dangerous. But if you choose to see the difficult people in your life, choose to do it with thankfulness and grace. Try to show them a different way of interacting and moving forward. If they can’t, focus on the other people present and enjoy the festivities as you show them where true peace and joy come from.
- Be a problem-solver, not a problem maker – The holiday season is complex as we have our normal life to maintain, then we add a bunch of other stuff on top of the ‘norm’. This can easily lead to having too much on your plate. And most other people will have too much on their plates as well. Problems, trials, and tribulations will happen, guaranteed. You want to show others that God has the answers for all the big problems of life, so He certainly has answers for the smaller, day-to-day issues as well. Be excited by the opportunity to bring some positivity to problems. By all means, don’t be a problem generator. Try to go with the flow. If the flow is in a sinful or morally questionable direction, calmly state the reason you need to suggest a different option.
- Think first, then speak/react – I am amazed at how many times people speak or act without thinking. So many hurtful comments, knee-jerk reactions, or caving-to-temptation decisions could be avoided with just a five-second count and the internal question, “What are my other options?” Harmful choices can be anything from a sarcastic comment, a verbal dig, a questionable look, gossiping or eating the extra sweet to using an addictive object or engaging in some extra-marital sexual activity. All can be easily avoided by thinking first.
- Challenge yourself always to see the positive in people and situations – Just open the paper or watch the news. We live in a fallen world, and destruction and negativity are all around us. The world needs light and hope. When adversity strikes, you should shine brighter. Be a Lighthouse!
Many obstacles ranging from minor potholes to dangerous land mines are scattered throughout our holiday journey. This season and always, we need to stay focused on the path leading to the Promised Land of peace, joy, and contentment, while recognizing the obstacles and avoiding the shortcuts, detours, or exits that lead to stress, loneliness, overwhelmed feelings, sadness, hurt, spite, bitterness, jealousy, addiction, and despair.
We at Lighthouse Network wish you and yours a blessed holiday season. Your finances determine your material riches, but your attitude determines your psychological and spiritual riches and blessings. Unlike our finances, our attitude is 100% in our control, so we have no excuse not to have a rich holiday season.
Remember, Decisions determine your life, so choose well.