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Monday, December 14, 2009

2nd Monday Discussion: Avoiding the Grinch

We're at that point, most of us, whether we are clergy or involved lay volunteers, or church employees or simply human beings: we're wondering how we will get Christmas to come, just right, in our time and place. And sometimes that effort alone makes us feel a bit like the Grinch.

I will confess to finding this stressful. And it's no coincidence that I've frequently been sick at this time of year.

For our discussion today, I invite you to share something you're doing to keep the stress levels down this December. And remember, even the Grinch couldn't stop Christmas from coming. Even without the decorations and presents, it came just the same.


  1. I found myself this week overruling my perfectionist self and focusing on all that was good and right and holy. This is a developing spiritual discipline for me.

    I also chose several things from the "Keep Sane Menu" : hit the gym, saw the counselor, got a fantastic massage, and making room for friends. All do wonders.

    Lastly, I am adjusting my expectations. A RGBP somewhere along the way used the phrase "situational best". I am letting us off the hook with the Christmas tree for this year. The red tablecloth on the kitchen table is going to have to suffice.

    I hope each of you are successfully finding ways to keep your inner Grinch at bay!

  2. I actually find it freeing to remember that Christmas will still come, even without boxes and bows, but I find it worrying that it can't come at church without bulletins and poinsettias!
    My de-stressing plan for this week was to have been a massage today. Unfortunately, the massage therapist had a family emergency. I've rescheduled for Friday.

  3. Bethany, thanks for your comment!
    We finally decorated the tree last night, after two weeks of nothing but lights. It felt like a big effort. I applaud your red cloth choice.

  4. I know this sounds "elementary, my dear watson," but...

    I am trying to be good about getting up early for "quiet time," which for me translates into a couple of lit candles, Morning prayer using the Book of Common Worship, and the daily lectionary readings. I'm also trying to read from a book called "Stations of the Cradle." I'm too tired to get up, and yet when I do it I notice I leave for work feeling refreshed and centered.

  5. I am trying to do this by working from home today. Sundays have been long and tiring (though excellent!) lately, and I can't seem to get up the energy to face my office on Monday. But I can read, write, answer email/phone calls, etc, from my pjs on the couch, kitties close at hand. Bonus: no driving on snowy/slushy/icy roads.

  6. The most stressful part of Christmas for me is the presents. I love putting up the tree, and preparing for Christmas worship, but I find procuring and wrapping and presenting the presents--especially the ones beyond my immediate family--very anxiety-producing. I'm also really afraid that I'll forget someone, especially at church.

    So...just a few minutes ago, in fact, I sent out a note to the members of my church council, telling them that I will make a donation to the church in honor of all our volunteers this Christmas. I didn't say this, but I would be delighted if anyone in the church who was planning to give me a present would do the same. I found I have some extra, unexpected money this month, and it feels right to give some of it away.

    I'm rather new at this, and I hope this doesn't seem like a terrible idea.

  7. I work in a secular setting, and I do the same thing as Anonymous for gifts to my co-workers.

    For about the last 2 years I've made a donation to Habitat for Humanity and then made a card (on the computer) that indicates this, what the gift was.... People seem to greatly appreciate it...and who really needs another Christmas mug or little tchochke? And I don't need to be as Grinchy as I get doing that sort of thing, either.

    This year I'm doing a sponsorship through Women for Women International and an e-card. :) Sustainability, and all that.

  8. I find denial works brilliantly... :)

  9. I'm making a point to not lessen my prayer and meditation time. We get so busy this time of year, that we often forget about our personal relationship with Christ. I'm attempting to actually invest MORE time than I usually to to counter the worldly stresses.

  10. Fun lunches are breaking up my grinchy spirit this week.

    Today Panera and some worship planning and bulletin work.

    Tomorrow a celebration lunch with a dear friend who has found a call after 2 years of looking.

    Thursday lunch with some of the matriarchs of the church. It's usually quite fun to join them.

    And thanks for the reminder Songbird, that Christmas will come even without the boxes and bows.

  11. I'm with Nik - denial (No, it is NOT December 14th already. Can't possibly be.)

    Also, working out as often as possible is very helpful. However, the workout is good (Of course it is) but it is also a way of "disappearing" as needed. In other words, when I'm running on the treadmill, no one at the church can find me, no matter what. Some days, that's a life-saver, plain and simple.

  12. Advent is always such a strange season for me, for the last eight years it has been a time of final papers and final exams and it feels like I am never really present to it and Christmas just kind of sneaks up on me.

    I tried this year to make Advent happen, figuring I'm in seminary, it should be easier, right? (okay, I can hear the laughter now...) And yet still, Christmas is eleven days away??? How did that happen?!?!

    I am definitely in grinch mode with two more finals left before Thursday, and nothing done to prepare for Christmas. But, I'm finding that naps and the gym help curb the grinch within, as well as looking forward to getting my very first Christmas tree and decorating it with my husband this Friday when all the finals are done.

    Songbird, your comment made my day... even without the boxes and bows, Christmas will still come; Christ will still come.

  13. A Short List:

    more exercise
    more acupuncture
    more Starbucks Hot Caramel Apple Cider

  14. I've had no voice for 4 days and now manage a deep husky growl. My sinuses are throbbing and there's a tickly cough beginning. Oh, and two funerals this week too. I think the Grinch has got a firm hold on me, don't you? Help me!

  15. I am eliminating stress because I haven't purchased any presents, and I am not going to worry about it. :) Family and anticipation are the most important parts of Advent, not presents!

    I'll get as many as I can after my finals are over (I'm a seminary student) but before then it's all study. And I am going to use that study to enjoy advent even more! - Hil

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  17. Nik's plan seems to be working relatively well for me, too, until 3 a.m. when I wake up panicking over all that is left to do. The combination of Christmas stuff at home, Christmas stuff at church, and end-of-year stuff in both places really stresses me out, so I am very glad to have this reminder that I should be taking care of myself!

    I'm not sure if I'm the only one here who has mentioned the notion of situational best, but it is a concept I developed/embraced many years ago...and one I should be applying right now.

  18. Songbird, I really appreciate your words, as I've been struck with a nasty case of grinchiness this year (in addition to the sickness you mentioned.)

    And here's another voice wondering why christmas can come without the decorations, but not without the bulletins and powerpoints and Christmas Eve sermon that are supposed to be amazing and completely unique. But come it will, nonetheless...

  19. Dancing with God (and others) - the fun lunches are part of my sanity-saving, as was the visit to the therapist and the working from home and the long good swims. Then there's the upcoming public presentation on the D.Ed.Min project, which will be great when behind me and fun pulling together - but also want to do the tree and a wee bit more baking. Have decided that all will get done - and all is less than past years - and all will be well.
    Advent blessings to all, esp. those who preach/lead/participation in worship during this season,

  20. I'm with Bethany, when all else fails, LOWER YOUR STANDARDS!!!
    and in this part of the world, the presence of so many folks on the "other" calendar allows us to shift gears to the "Ukrainian" mode in an emergency...


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