Holiday Stress Versus What Really Matters: By Courtney

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Guest Post Saturday! Today, Courtney takes us on her quest to de-stress and refocus the holiday season in her heartwarming post “Holiday Stress Versus What Really Matters.” Read about Courtney after her post. And remember to subscribe to get posts delivered directly to your email inbox. Thanks for reading!

Every year I find myself stressed out about my never-ending Christmas list. I wish for a simpler time when the holidays meant sipping hot cocoa around the fire, making cookies with friends, watching Christmas movies, and celebrating the birth of Christ all those years ago.

Kenny and I want to make sure that our children know the real reason for the season. We want them to enjoy all the delights of Christmas and stay focused on the greatest gift we have ever received — Christ!

Last Christmas was the first that our son Wyatt was old enough to actually enjoy. We unwrapped countless gifts and made tons of memories. We visited with family and partook in holiday parties.

It was wonderful, yet, I felt something weighing on my heart. I could not pinpoint what it was for quite some time.

I was tired and run-down. The stress of picking out perfect gifts for family and friends, putting up every last decoration, taking pictures, going here and there, baking this, and wrapping that had just been too much.

What should have been about Christ and the magic of the season, had become about trying to keep up with the Pinterest perfect Christmas pictures that filled the world around me.

A friend had posted a picture on Facebook of their Christmas morning. A cozy fireplace and tree all lit up with two small piles of presents each under the tree. The caption read “Jesus received 3 gifts. . . Same with my kids! Merry Christmas everyone. Remember the ‪#‎reasonfortheseason.”

That picture hit me hard. I kept thinking how he might as well have tagged me. . . “Courtney Biter, I’m talking to you.” I had totally missed the reason that we celebrate Christmas.

I thought about the idea of only three presents under the tree and decided that the logistics of it were too complicated.

How do you only select three presents for each child?

Even if you could keep it to three gifts, how do you kindly ask others to not go overboard when buying for your children. . . is that even fair to ask?

What about when my children go to school. . . will they be embarrassed or feel less important than other kids?

I tossed the idea out to Kenny and asked around to see if anyone I personally know was doing the “Three Gift Christmas.” I heard nothing.

I reached out to the family who was the first to introduce me to the idea. I asked some questions and their answer was simple and to the point. Mrs. Mother of Three Gift Christmas Family said, “Honestly, I think I’m just going to tell them. . . Jesus got 3 gifts and so that’s what you get too. . . and we want to try our best and be like Jesus.”

My mouth dropped. She couldn’t have had a more perfect answer.

Kids don’t need a complicated explanation. It was me who was complicating this and over-thinking it (as usual). I needed to try my best to be like Jesus.

I’ve never thought of Jesus as a complicated person. The stories of him in the Bible show a gentle man doing the right thing regardless of what others thought. He loved God with all his heart. Simple. To the point.

This year, our children are receiving three presents each — Just like Jesus.

This simple change has shifted my attitude. It has put everything in perspective. Instead of stressing about putting up all of our decorations, I’ve selected my favorites. When choosing gifts for loved ones, I remind myself that purchasing gifts for others is fun.

Now that I’m not trying to do it all this holiday season, we have more time to spend together as a family. We purchased a Little People Nativity set for our kids, and Wyatt likes to point out that “He-zus” is in the hay for the cows (he ALWAYS has cows on the mind). It has been a neat way to teach him about the first Christmas.

I don’t think our “Three Gift Christmas” is for everyone. There are so many people out there who can do it all and stay grounded in what really matters. I’m envious of them! For our family, it just feels right. This will be a trial year; but, I’m already a fan of the results.

Happy Reading,


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