I sat alone in the Costco Food Court and stuffed down a hot dog with a Diet Coke chaser. As I stared blankly at the abyss of people and cars, I heard a familiar voice and looked up at my dear friend, her face shadowed with concern. She looked at me as if I sat at a bar with fifteen empty shot glasses in front of me.
You see, this friend found my situation unusual. She knew that I did not eat hot dogs or drink Diet coke, nor did I get out much alone; I usually had my boys in tow.
On this December day, I left my family at home to shop for Christmas groceries. As I drove to Costco, I noticed my shaking hands and I felt a gritty feeling in my gut. Even though I was out alone (a rare treat in those days), instead of peace, I felt consumed by anxiety and depleted; up to my ears in holiday merrymaking and people pleasing.
My sweet friend asked me if I was doing okay. I lied and said I was fine, just taking some time for myself (doesn’t everyone choose the Costco Food Court for “me time”?)
Oh, how I wish I would have opened up to my girlfriend that day. She would have listened to my tale. She would have told me to stop and take time for self-care. She would have hugged me and encouraged me to rest.
My date with a hot dog and Diet Coke was a way to self-sooth and abate stress. I did not see that my choice that day was a red flag revealing how unattuned I was to my mental state. The shaky hands and uneasy stomach were also signs I should have paid attention to.
Sometimes, holiday expectations are higher than our unrealistic “normal” expectations. We cave to the pressure (whether it is from ourselves or others) to create a beautiful, perfect holiday. We often fall into the comparison trap (comparing our decorated homes, decorated children and grandchildren to others, comparing our gift giving volume to a friend’s, measuring our family’s activities to the ones we see on social media, etc.) We succumb to the Christmas Crazies by overcommitment in our time and budget with barely a thought to the January bill or self-care and rest. We crave joy and peace but feel numb and hollow instead.
Even though I have come a long way since the day with the hot dog and Diet Coke, I sometimes give way to the comparisons and crazies. But mostly, I plan margin room in my holiday schedule and look out for the red flags. Once the calendar turns to December, I take some quiet mindful moments and surrender my Christmas and forge a plan of self-care and soul-care. This time of intentionality lays a foundation for my priorities, goals, giving, and spending in the upcoming ultra-busy weeks. I acknowledge my inability to manage without God, as I release my tight hold on my life, my people-pleasing struggles, my comparisons, my expectations, and my health needs.
My friend, where do you find yourself on this December day (hopefully not at the Costco Food Court!)? Are there red flags in your life? Have Christmas expectations and exhaustion already swept you away?
Since this season is His season, what a perfect moment to hand Jesus the reigns. Join me in the practice of holiday mindfulness and present the Lord a Christmas Surrender.
- Psalm 46:10
- Proverbs 8:14
- Matthew 11:28
- Romans 11:33
- prepare a cup of tea or cocoa and sit by the Christmas tree
- put on some instrumental Christmas tunes and soak in the tub
- read daily Advent scripture
- read a Christmas book
- watch a Christmas movie
- take a walk
- keep a Christmas gratitude journal
- seek support through friends or a counselor
- JUST SAY NO!
Pc: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash