By Rebecca Hagelin
Culture Challenge of the Week: Holiday Grumbles
“I hate the holidays,” the grocery lady said to me as I was checking out.
She shook her head. “Too much stress. Can’t wait ‘til it’s over.”
She’s not alone in her feelings.
This week is Thanksgiving, and the mad Christmas shopping scramble has already begun. As relatives descend, it’s all too easy to focus on the shopping, cooking, and cleaning that underlie holiday preparations. In the process, we forget what we’re celebrating. We’re too busy getting ready for, then serving, then cleaning up from Thanksgiving to actually give thanks.
Christmas becomes the same. We decorate, make lists, buy presents, prepare menus, and over-schedule the calendar with ‘can’t miss’ social obligations. We hurtle through Christmas, making it just right for everyone but, in our heart of hearts, we can’t wait ‘til it’s over. Holiday stress, on top of ‘ordinary’ life stresses-- health challenges, work troubles, financial struggles, insurance woes, and relationship issues—can become the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Stop. Right now.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
There’s only one thing that’s truly necessary in order to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas well: a heart that wants to love others. The gifts, parties, and sumptuous family dinners are wonderful ways to express our love and celebrate the Lord’s goodness in our lives. But we need to keep our focus on the heart of the matter: The greatest happiness in our lives comes from the “stuff” (or stuffing) that fills us temporarily, but from the rich relationships that we lovingly tend over time.
We can’t make the ordinary stresses of life go away. But we can take time this holiday to simplify and refocus on relationships. We can become the light in others’ lives, creating joy and bringing miracles where hope has slipped away.
So how do you get everyone on the same page, refocusing on what’s important and letting all the rest go?
How to Save Your Family: Light a Candle
I’ve got a practical suggestion to get you started.
Go, as a family, to see a wonderful new movie, The Christmas Candle, that opens over the Thanksgiving holidays. (It’s in theaters nationwide, beginning on November 22nd.) Based on the book by Max Lucado, The Christmas Candle is an intriguing, heartwarming story sure to inspire even the most jaded heart.
As Max Lucado said of the movie, “Don’t underestimate the power of story” to inspire others towards goodness, to help them see the power of giving, to find joy and hope—even when they feel they’ve got nothing left.
After all, that’s how the townspeople in the movie’s fictional village of Gladbury feel about life—they’re beaten down, cynical and struggling in the face of unexpected challenges. Into this situation comes a reluctant preacher who, building on the town’s legend of a miraculous Christmas Candle, challenges the people in unexpected ways, with extraordinary results.
I won’t give away the story, but it’s too good to miss. (Well-acted, the films stars top actors from films like the Hobbit, Braveheart, and Les Miserables, has received great advance reviews, and has a family-friendly PG rating.)
More importantly, it’s an opportunity for us to bring our families together, to celebrate goodness and to remember the ‘reason why’ we come together, in life, not just for the holidays. This movie will help you re-imagine the goodness and joy that’s within your power to create.
Go watch The Christmas Candle movie together. (Check the website.http://www.thechristmascandlemovie.com, for theaters near you.)
Then light a candle and pray.
This season, the best is yet to come.
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Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, “Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.” He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn’t Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels.
Dr. Dobson served as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years and on the attending staff of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for 17 years. He has been active in governmental affairs and has advised three U.S. presidents on family matters. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (1967) in the field of child development. He holds 17 honorary doctoral degrees, and was inducted in 2008 into The National Radio Hall of Fame. Dr. Dobson recently received the “Great American Award” from The Awakening.
Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley and they have two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and two grandchildren. The Dobsons reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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