Christmas stress, let’s make 2020 different

Normally, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I get overwhelmed with so much running here and there in order to accomplish my list of tasks:

  1. Decorating the inside and the outside of the house.
  2. Deciding what gifts to buy; where to get the best deal; and even sometimes returning them for a different one.
  3. Struggling to schedule family member visits and as many friends as possible.
  4. Attending Sunday school class parties and community events.
  5. Attending children’s school plays and classroom parties.
  6. Church concerts, children’s plays and other church events.

And when Christmas day finally arrives, I’m exhausted and I say to myself, or even out loud, “why do I allow myself to get so worked up over all the things that I placed upon myself?  Next year I promise it will be different.”

It’s now next year. And as we all have said countless times this year, “I’ve never done it that way before.”

So, what if advent 2020 was truly different?

What if it less stressful, like in our younger days when we didn’t have so much responsibilities?

What if we went back in time to the 1950’s or 1960’s or 1970’s when Christmas season was ‘slower?’

What if we took the opportunities of having a slower pace in our world seriously? 

What if….

  1. We really spent more time in prayer.
  2. We sent Christmas cards again, or, made them instead of buying them? Or, wrote a little personal note in each card we sent?
  3. We made new ‘homemade’ ornaments to place on our tree? Or renovated the old ornaments and other decorations that need attention each year?
  4. This season we baked homemade goodies like grandma used to.
  5. We truly spent time with our neighbors, getting to know them instead of just waving as they enter or exit their driveway or garage?

What if we took seriously this God given time to do the things we’ve always dreamed about and yet never made time to do? What if this advent/Christmas season was truly different from any other that we’ve ever experienced?

The greatest gift ever given was from God:  Jesus, who spent time with us and still does. What if we took this special year, in this special season and gave the gift of time to one another? 

Christmas is a time for the renewing of our souls, minds and hearts for a fresh new start in the year to come. No one ever expected 2020 to turn out like it did; so, I wonder what surprises 2021 will bring that we’ll need to be fresh and connected stronger in our faith in order to make it through. May this year be a truly sensationally memorable year to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Prayer: Gracious God, slow me down! Help me to see all the beauty that You have created around me, that I normally am too busy to see during this season. Renew your spirit in each of us. Give wholeness, joy and a yearning to actively love our brothers and sisters. Amen.


Rev. Robert Besser is the Director of Congregational Excellence for the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. He can be found visiting churches all across the Conference.

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