TUESDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2011
We Wish You a “Mary” Christmas
By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH
It’s that time of the year again when the list of things to be done grows by the minute, plans are changed again and again until the last minute, and stress over finances, family, and friends is at an all time high. There is too much to do, too much to see, too many places to be, and far too many expectations to be met. The demands of work, family, friends, and even church push us to a panic frenzy to meet and exceed those demands but at what expense?
When did this season, the season of joy, the season of celebration, the season of giving and the season of bonding become the season of anxiety over unmet expectations and financial pressure, the season of depression over the loss of loved ones, and the season of trampling over others to make a purchase? “Merry Christmas” is not so merry anymore. Rather than trying to put the “Merry” back into Christmas, I would propose a different type of “Mary”. Jesus refers to Mary in Luke 10:38-42 when he informs Martha that she is worried and upset over the details of preparing a meal while her sister Mary sits a listens to Him talk. She has chosen the better path, one of quiet listening instead of hurrying around.
Has anyone seen my calendar? Take a moment to glance over your calendar right now and see just how full it is with events, parties, and special gatherings. If it is like mine, it is frightening and double booked for several nights and events. With all of this running around there is not much time to sit and reflect on the true purpose of Christmas and even less time devoted to spending with just your immediate family. But you can choose the Mary way instead of the Martha way by adjusting your calendar to spend more time with the most important people in your life.
Can you ever have enough Christmas decorations? Yes Christmas decorations are fun and do help to put you in the mood for Christmas but when you find yourself angry at your spouse for not helping with the outside lights, frustrated at the kids for breaking a favorite ornament, or annoyed at the cat for destroying the bottom of yet another tree, they are adding to your stress level. Decorations are meant to be fun but if they are not, then don’t add them. Martha would be decorating and redecorating, Mary would not.
Of course we are doing another family picture with Santa! Family pictures are frequently exchanged this time of year and they are always full of smiles and happy faces but life is rarely full of smiles and happy faces. In fact, I have yet to know of a family who does not go through some struggle in any given year yet we pretend that everything is fine. This is most hurtful to those who have lost a loved one in the last year and are still struggling with grief. Martha tried to live up to everyone else’s expectations by preparing a great meal, but Mary chose to focus on the one person that mattered most, Jesus.
This year take some time to evaluate your traditions and expectations. Read the section in Luke about Mary and Martha and ask yourself, are you more like Mary or Martha? Then make the better choice.
Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.
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