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Many people spend the year counting down the days 🗓 until Christmas, eager for snow and cheer to fill the air.

They love everything about the holiday season—hot cocoa ☕️, wrapping presents 🎁, Christmas shopping, the smell of Christmas trees, and the sound of Christmas music with iconic expressions like “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”

By people… I mean me! 😆

But, even though I do love Christmas, I admit, the holidays can be a stressful, exhausting time.

If that’s you this year, don’t worry! We have all had years where it was harder to get into the Christmas spirit than others.

I remember when our finances were so tight we could hardly afford to heat our house during the winter months. As a mother, Christmas felt like a ton of bricks weighing on me. I didn’t want to disappoint my children or be a bad mom, but at the same time, we really didn’t have the money for a lot of presents. And my kids were just the beginning of my shopping list! 🤦‍♀️

It was really easy to put down my holiday cheer and pick up overwhelming feelings of dread instead.

But you know what? I learned two incredible principles that turned my holiday dread into pure excitement to spend Christmas with my family again.

1. Refocus on What Matters

Have you ever seen the movie The Grinch?

It’s a Christmas classic my family loves watching every year. In the story, little Cindy Lou Who convinces the whole town of Whoville that Christmas isn’t about the presents, and the Grinch has a touching change of heart. ❤️❤️

Remember this line?

“‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store … maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!’”

I used to spend so much of my holiday season performing for other people. I thought if I didn’t get them the perfect gift or bring the perfect cake to the party, people would be unhappy with me. No wonder I dreaded the holidays!

We have to remember that this is an incredible time to celebrate the birth of Jesus—not a time to drown in dread!

The holiday season is about taking the time to stop and appreciate all of the good things God has blessed us with. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with to-do lists and tight budgets, dread is usually going to set in.

If your to-do list is causing you to dread Christmas, throw it out! Boom! Mic drop! 🎤

Sure, people appreciate gifts and fancy cakes, but do you know what they will remember the most?

People will remember the memories they made with YOU! 😀

This is the time to forget about the laundry. Forget about the dishes in the sink after your Christmas dinner.

I want to encourage you to forget about being PERFECT and focus on being PRESENT.

2. Set Your Expectations

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

It’s true! Your thoughts are THAT powerful!

Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB).

What you expect out of life is what you get out of life.

Soooooo, do you have your expectations set for a peaceful, fun, memory filled holiday season? Or are you expecting stress, strife, and exhausting late nights? 😫

Make a commitment TODAY to get a new picture in your mind of what this time can mean for you and your family.

What new traditions can you start? 🤔

What old traditions need to go? 🗑

What boundaries do you need to set to keep this year from turning out like last year?

If your finances are tight like Gary’s and mine were during that rocky patch in our life, you can get creative with your Christmas gifts.

Easy tips:

  • Make handmade presents for your relatives, or invite them over for dinner instead. Go HERE to check out some super cute Pinterest DIY gift ideas! 🎁
  • Buy your children one gift they can all share and enjoy. If you find it hard to set limits for your children, go HERE and check out my blog.
  • Set your faith for great deals and sales 🙏🏻 on the items you’re looking for. Faith works for Christmas shopping too!

No matter what your circumstances look like today, you can replace your holiday dread 😖 with excitement 😃for the holidays again because God has made a way for you!

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV).

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God has an incredible plan for your life, but it starts with discovering your joy in His presence. Are you ready to get HAPPY? Embark on a journey toward a happier you today by ordering my weekly devotional, The Happy Life: Notes from God HERE!

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