I love the Christmas season- especially the music and the decorations. I love gathering with people I love most, while honoring my creator and celebrating the birth of His son. I blame my husband’s family for the endless baking, the insane amount of decorating, and the multitude of Christmas movies that must be watched. I thought my family enjoyed the season, until I was introduced to his side of the family. Grown adults are reduced to children as they chase one other around the house bopping one another over the head with wrapping paper tubes. Gum drops cannot be eaten until they are thrown at each other first- leaving gum drop shaped welts on the skin. Traditions must be adhered to, specific food must be baked, and at the insistance of my side of the family, services must be attended and Jesus must be sung to. It makes my heart sing when my family is together and getting along. Their laughter fills my bucket. But what happens when things aren’t really “okay’?
Force joy. The best advice I can give is to “fake it until you make it”, and to do things that bring you joy. We have a few things that help in our home that I thought might be helpful to share.
The 24-hour rule. We have 24-hours to have a pitty party, which is sometimes necessary. At times life is unfair and we need to take time to be sad, frustrated, and disappointed so that we can move forward. We need to have processing time. In our home, it is up to the rest of the family to let you know when your 24-hours is up. At that point, it is time to come up with a practical plan. My husband has always been particularly good at helping us to come up with those next steps.
Do something. Both my husband and I come from families with a huge work ethic. We have always worked hard and we appreciate others who make that a priority. In fact, we have little toleration for those who can, but don’t work. It is actually how my husband and I “speak” love to one another. Nothing brings us more joy than working side by side. It is amazing what physical labor will do to ward off frustration and force a new mindset. At the end of the day, when we have worked hard, we can look back at our accomplishments with pride. We’ve had lots of think time and are ready for some quality rest from honest physcial labor.
Force a good attitude. Attitudes are contagious. We force ourselves off the couch, off the phone and social media, and get ourselves on the floor to play a board game or tickle a baby. It costs nothing to play and interact with the people we love. Laughter improves the spirit. My husband particularly enjoys watching practical jokes on the internet. His laughter can bring me out of a funk quicker than most anything.
Go for a walk. Physical exercise, fresh air, fresh fallen snow, a fuzzy pet, and a friendly wave from the toddler next door is always helpful. We need to get up and get out! I often pray out loud and walk at a good clip so that when I return, I am physically exhausted. It clears my head and tires me out.
Make a pot of coffee. Coffee solves a multitude of problems, especially with a good book, and a friend or two.
Light a candle. Smell helps to bring me out of a funk. I love the smell of a candle, especially when it smells like fresh-baked cookies!
Clean up and get dressed. It is amazing what a shower and fresh clean clothes will do to lift my spirits. I do that even when I’m sick. It helps me to feel human. Sometimes I paint my nails, put on some good smelling lotion, or try a new hair style.
Write encouraging notes. It is amazing how comforting it is to encourage someone else who might need a hand up, from someone else who “gets it”, and is also trying to seek joy when times are rough.
Perform an act of kindness. Kind souls occasionally leave me gift cards in my box at school. Some day it is my goal to pay it forward and to be the keeper of the gift cards. They have been such a huge blessing to me. However, kindness doesn’t have to cost a thing. It is a priceless gift when we share a kind word, a meal, a movie, some quality adivice, and actively listen to a friend in need.
Blast uplifting music. There are some songs that I just love to sing loudly. When they come on in the car, the kids and I just automatically turn the radio up really loud and sing at the top of our lungs. Honestly, I would love to make a soundtrack of those wonderful tunes. (That reminds me, I haven’t heard The Hawaian Christmas song yet this season!)
Take care of yourself. When times are challenging, it is easy to slip into the “poor me’s”. The more I sit and wallow, the harder it is to get off the couch. I try to get 7 hours of rest, eat food that is good for me and will provide me with energy, get some exercise, accomplish something that makes me proud of myself, encourage another person, read the bible, pray out loud, talk to a friend, read a book for pleasure, light a candle and pour a cup of coffee.
So if life is getting you down, and things aren’t “okay”, what are you going to do about it today?
Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. Today I am going to have a high altitude attitude.