I was listening to Pandora radio while getting breakfast ready this morning. A song caught my attention:  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Cute song. I wonder, though, do most of us really have a Merry Christmas? If your life is anything like normal, Christmas is a time full of busyness, sickness, thrown-off-schedules, awful traffic, dreary days, dirty snow, dangerous weather, sky-high bills, ornery relatives, and an artillery charge of other problems. A “Merry Little Christmas”? Might as well forget about it.

Seven Ways To Have a Merry Little Christmas

To make matters worse, we’re supposed to be happy. Worse even, Christmas is one of the biggest Christian holidays of the year! And to top it all off, we’re supposed to help other people be happy and to realize what an important and joyful time this Christmas season is supposed to be.

How in the world are we supposed to do that?

Rather than pummel yourself in the ground trying to feel happier, take one or two of these suggestions—suggestions for really having a merry little Christmas.

Lower your expectations.

If you’re expecting a sudden burst of Christmas spirit to zap you as you walk through the mall (fighting traffic, picking through abused merchandise, waiting in line, and listening to “Jingle Bell Rock” for the 5,909th time), forget it. Perhaps one way to really enjoy the Christmas season is to realize that we’re not going be on soaring heights of joy at all times. Instead, resolve to enjoy every moment as it comes.

Raise your anticipation.

The greatest source of Christmas joy will not come from gifts, giving, family, or friends. The deepest and most abiding sense of joy will come from Jesus Christ Himself—the central figure of the true Christmas story. The Christmas season doesn’t need to be a stressful season. It can be a season of joyful anticipation of the coming of Jesus. Meditating on the birth of Jesus may seem like a worn-out Christmas tradition. After all, you know it so well, right? Maybe you do. But you can know it even better. And as you do, you’ll find the source of true joy that will make Christmas a truly merry occasion.

Say no.

You’ve probably been invited to about 67 Christmas parties? Me too. Got a tip for ya. Say “no” to about 80% of them. Seriously. People won’t miss you that badly. If you have too many Christmas invitations, send your regrets, cut your holiday stress, and have a blessed time by the fire with your family instead. One of the major reasons for holiday blues is holiday busyness. And one of the best ways to avoid the busyness is to just say no to it. It’s that simple.

Take time off.

If you can afford it, try to take some extra time off at Christmas. Of course, we all take a vacation (unless you work retail), but I suggest that you take some personal time. Last year, I took a day right around the New Year to just sit, think, pray, and write. I wasn’t blogging. I wasn’t taking calls. I wasn’t working ahead. It was a time of solitude and personal meditation for my soul. It was one of the most beneficial things I did all year. Taking time off will help you gain that focus and energy that allows you to enjoy the Christmas season more.

Invest your time in your family.

Gifts will perish. Christmas trees will shrivel up. Parties will end. The Cantata will be over. But your family is going to stick around. Give them your time. Turn off the iPhone, record the football game to watch later, and just enjoy your family. It will make Christmas a merrier experience.

Start a tradition.

Traditions give a sense of deep meaning to events and holidays. My family began a tradition of commemorating Advent every evening leading up to Christmas. This new Christmas tradition for us has allowed me to share in the longing of the coming of Christ, to yearn for His second coming, and to rejoice in the incarnation. What tradition can you start this Christmas?

Give to others.

This Christmas, give to others. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In other words, “You will be more happy and blessed if you give to others, rather than receive from others.” How do you have a happy Christmas? Give. Give from your exhausted emotions:  a genuine smile and kind word to the clerk at the department store. Give of your time:  a solid Christmas weekend of fun, conversation, and traditions with your family. Give of your energy:  volunteering at the soup kitchen or rescue mission. Give of your resources:  a year-end gift to Samaritan’s Purse or International Justice Mission.

Having a merry little Christmas isn’t the goal of our Christmas season. If it is, we’re going to wind up disappointed, frustrated, and burned out. But if we shift our goals away from personal happiness, and focus instead upon Jesus, upon our family, and upon others, there’s a good chance we’ll enjoy our Christmas a whole lot more.

About The Author

Daniel Threlfall

Daniel Threlfall has been writing church ministry articles for more than 10 years. With his background and training (M.A., M.Div.), Daniel is passionate about inspiring pastors and volunteers in their service to the King. Daniel is devoted to his family, nerdy about SEO, and drinks coffee with no cream or sugar. Learn more about Daniel at his blog and twitter.

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