Chances are that this Christmas you will probably receive a gift you aren’t particularly thrilled with. I’ve received my share of less-than-usable gifts over the years and I have given plenty of them too.
I will never forget, for example, my grandmother’s inability to hide her unimpressed reaction upon opening a bird house I gave her a few years back. I laugh about it now, but surely we can all relate to this experience. So what do we do with the items we don’t have a particular use for? Well, we re-gift them of course.
Come on. Admit it. We all do it—the practice of re-wrapping and giving away what you have absolutely no use for.
This season I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of re-gifting. But not in the typical way you might think. I’ve been thinking about all I have been given that is worth giving away. This past year has come with many highs and lows like they all do. But God has certainly been gracious to me. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities and by many people. It is those things that I will be re-gifting this coming year.
If you have received forgiveness; re-gift it. If you have received mercy; re-gift it. Likewise if you have been the recipient of any good thing: friendship, laughter, trust, patience, grace—why don’t you make a point to re-gift that in this coming year?
My prayer for you this week is that you will have a wonderful time with family and friends and that you will spend some time remembering the real reason we celebrate at this time of year. And amidst all the gifts you receive this week, be thinking about the important things you can re-gift that can make a difference in someone else’s life.
I receive emails every week from wonderful people. I love to hear from you. So please, keep writing. This past week I was contacted by a young mom who wrote me out of sheer frustration. Here’s part of what she shared:
“One thing that I cannot seem to understand is how you maintain your level or fitness every day with your busy schedule and two children. I have two children myself and work full time. I don’t have the option of midday workouts while the children are in school and after school is usually time spent ushering kids to activities and homework. I leave the house by 7:30 every morning. This is something I struggle with. I am up for suggestions on finding time to truly see results.”
I think finding the time to exercise is one of the biggest challenges we face today. Especially during the holidays, we add even more commitments to our already packed schedules. I do not in any way want to make it sound easy; because it’s not. But I do want to share just a couple of thoughts that might help if you are struggling with the same issue:
- It may sound harsh, but remember we make time for what’s important to us. Accept that as true and take responsibility for it. Be honest with yourself.
- We all have families and commitments that pull at us from all directions. But if you take care of yourself first, you will be better able to take care of those you love.
- A little exercise is better than none at all.
- Cut yourself some slack. You aren’t in a race. This is the rest of your life.
- Realize the need. People who exercise regularly don’t necessarily have more time than you do; they’ve just determined that what they get out of exercise is worth more than whatever else they could be doing (sleeping, lunch with friends, shopping, housework, etc.).
I heard this analogy once: If someone called and offered a free massage to you—but only in the next hour—how hard would you work to clear that hour of time? If you love massages, you’d work pretty hard to change your schedule just like you find the time to do other important things. Exercise is just like anything else, but unless it’s important to you won’t find the time to do it.
I share with people all the time the value I have found in setting small, achievable goals. Take your commitment to exercise the same way. Be honest with yourself about where on your priority list it falls, and then find a way to accommodate it. Maybe you could get up just 15 minutes earlier. Make a list of all the times you could exercise, no matter how short a time. Another good thing to do is to really find a type of exercise that appeals to you. If you love to dance, get a dance fitness DVD and do it in front of the TV early in the morning or late at night. For example, my 76-year-old mother-in-law goes to a line dancing class every Thursday. She loves it! And it invigorates her.
I think far too often we worry about getting the perfect amount of exercise, and then we end up getting none at all. So stop making excuses and find a way to do it and you will be so glad you did!
Although Christmas time should be a magical time of year where we enjoy time with family and friends, exhibit the spirit of giving and celebrate Jesus’ birthday—for a lot of people the holidays are an extremely stressful time. And understandably so.
We are expected to continue with our already overly-busy everyday activities but are also faced with the tasks of planning and attending parties and get-togethers, purchasing gifts in overcrowded malls, preparing eight-course meals for those visiting us for the holidays, decorating our homes for the season, and attending programs at school and church. Of course all of these things are wonderful, but when they all fall within the confines of a few weeks they can be real stressors.
According to a recent survey released by the American Psychological Association, nearly 75% of respondents reported unhealthy stress levels in 2010. The survey also found that parents may underestimate the impact of stress on their families. While 69% of parents say their stress has little or no impact on their children, 91% of kids ages 8 to 17 report that they can tell when their parents are stressed. There’s no doubt that in our efforts to make this the “most wonderful time of the year,” the holiday season can bring on even more stress. The “Holiday Stress Index” conducted by Harris Interactive reported that 90% of respondents say they experience stress during the holiday season.
What are you doing to reduce your level of stress this season? Here are just a few practical tips I am going to try to implement in my own life that may help you too:
- Try all things in moderation. Don’t justify your overindulgence. Sure there are tons of yummy things to enjoy this season, but are they really worth going up a size in clothes for?
- Don’t try to meet everyone else’s expectations. Learn to downsize, pace yourself and plan ahead.
- Budget for Christmas and stick to it! Let’s face it —we’d all like to be as generous as possible. But if it’s going to cause undue stress and, even worse, take a year to pay off, then set a reasonable spending limit and stick to it.
- Get plenty of rest. A good amount of sleep, whether during the holidays or any other time during the year, can be the best way to relieve stress. If you are very tired and have had little sleep, you can’t enjoy your time at those parties, and you will find yourself cranky in those overcrowded stores. It is imperative that you get plenty sleep in order to manage your stress during this busy time.
- Although you may be busier than any other time of the year, don’t forget the benefits of exercise. You may have to modify your routine or cut it short, but don’t give it up entirely. Exercising will not only give you much needed energy, but it’ll also help stave off the extra holiday pounds and will help alleviate stress.
- Remember, it’s okay to say no. Don’t overextend yourself by accepting every social invitation you receive. Select the things that you really want to do and really enjoy those things. You can always reschedule with friends for the New Year and then you’ll have something fun to look forward to.
- Sit by the tree and soak it all in. Remember the blessings of the past year, reminisce about your favorite Christmas memories, sip a cup of your favorite coffee or cider and just enjoy the silence.
Don’t let stress ruin the holidays for you. By being intentional about your schedule and commitments over the next few weeks this season can be the best you’ve ever had!