How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was great, even though just a few days before Thanksgiving, I was in the dentist office from 10 a.m. to almost 6 p.m. to have two implants installed. It was scary to have two screws drilled into my lower right side bone so I was praying and reciting Psalm 23 the whole time. So far my recovery is good and I was able to enjoy meals (although no nuts and carrots are allowed). Hopefully one day, two crowns will be placed onto those implants and I would gain two "new teeth."
Some friends were wondering why I had dental implants done before Thanksgiving. The truth is that last time my dentist tried, she found out that my bone (after the first bone graft) was not strong enough. To have a strong foundation, I received my second bone graft a few months ago and we had to do it when the bone density was at its peak.
For the first few days after the implant, my only food was juice, ice cream and yogurt. Thank God that I recovered well enough to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, and dimsum lunch for my birthday. I am most grateful that James drove me to Santa Rosa to attend the retirement party of my favorite choir conductor and music teacher Dr. Lin (see Real Life Story). On Monday night, we celebrated Christmas with other Bay Area Chinese Pastors. Praise the Lord for His faithful servants!
With oral surgery and all, I now have to get ready for Christmas; but it is not too difficult because I sort of celebrate Christmas every day anyway. Hopefully, this feature article, Top 10 Ways to Have the Best Holidays Ever, will give you some ideas as well.
Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year. With each special day will come the hope that this one will be truly exceptional. However, many of us quickly get bogged down in busyness, stress and old patterns. Here are 10 ways to turn that dynamic around.
1. Give yourself a break. Perfection -- even perfect happiness -- just isn't possible. Let your best be good enough. Make a budget for both your time and your money -- and stick to it. It really is the thought that counts. What's the point of stressing yourself out? Remind yourself to "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
2. Make conscious decisions. Get clear about what you really want to do over the holidays before compromising with others. If you don't have a clear plan and clear intentions, you might find yourself getting swept along by others' desires. Even if you compromise later, get clear first. Be loving and assertive, share your feeling and tell people what you want. Don't blame them for guessing your wishes wrong. Better yet, be sensitive to what God wants for your relationships.
3. Shorten your to-do list. What do the holidays mean to you? For many, it's about family and friends and spirituality. If an item doesn't add to your holiday spirit, scratch it off. Otherwise, be creative! Many years ago, James' younger sister (who has five kids) suggested each of us to bring one gift on Christmas Eve instead of buying one gift for each person. After dinner, we played a modified version of the "white elephant" game that allows you to steal a gift you really like. It has been a big hit ever since!
4. Say no when you want to. It's very liberating. Try it and see. It sounds simple, but too often obligation trumps desire. When faced with options, choose the one that would make you happier around people and pleasing to your Heavenly Father.
5. Limit obligatory activities. If you can't avoid certain events, limit the time you're there. Don't burn yourself out.
6. Take good care of yourself. The old standards help keep stress at bay: eat healthfully, exercise, drink lots of water, and breathe deeply. Schedule time for relaxation and fun. I love to spend extra time by myself with the Lord to reflect on His love, goodness and faithfulness during the past year. Count your blessings, name them one by one.
7. Start early. To avoid a last-minute frenzy that can bust your budget, start shopping or making presents early. If you are not ready for Christmas this year, simplify NOW. Jesus is the reason for this season!
8. Ask for help. Reject any notion of martyrdom. The burden of preparations should not fall upon one person. The more specific you are in your request, the more successful you'll be.
9. Establish new traditions. If you have experienced a major life-changing event, such as a death or divorce, consider doing something you've never done before over the holidays, such as traveling to another country or taking a cruise. Starting 2007, there were many years that James and I traveled on Christmas Day to Europe to serve in Discipleship Training conferences during the holidays.
10. Get support. If a glorious holiday season feels completely out of reach, you may experience the holiday blues. Many people do. Don't beat yourself up for feeling that way. Reach out for the support you need. Better yet, volunteer somewhere (e.g. soup kitchen) to help someone more unfortunate than you are.
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications