For a season that is supposed to be about “peace on earth and good will to all men” I am amazed at how many grumpy people I’ve run into lately.  Wow, Christmas hasn’t even come yet and it seems the Grinch has stolen it  and substituted fruit cake with sour lemon cake.  How are you doing with handling all the stress and tension?

So, what’s going on?

1.  time constraints–so much to do, with so little time.   Shopping, parties, Christmas letters, school programs, family gatherings, wrapping, travel plans, decorating, people to see…places to go… things to do.  It’s like trying to squeeze a size 10 foot into a size 8 shoe.  You CAN do it, but boy it pinches and hurts.  Try walking in those shoes.

2.  people constraints–as much as we love people, people can drive us nuts.  I know–I am one.  I drive some people nuts.  Some people drive me nuts.  And they are inescapable.  We were at a gathering on the weekend and half the room was delightful.  Half the room was dreadful.  I won’t tell you which half of the room I was in.

3.  memories—can thrill you, and they can kill you.  Memories of past Christmases haunt us.   For some, Christmas was sooooooo perfect that this Christmas needs to be equally perfect if not better.  For others, Christmas was soooooooo dreadful that even the thought of Christmas dredges up fears, anxieties and reactions.

4.  television–is it just me, or are they broadcasting at a higher decibel level than normal?   I am watching a tv program and the ads come on and I jump up in response to the noise of the tv commercials.  Anybody else notice that?

5.  money—I know we aren’t supposed to think about it…I just wish I could convince my Visa account to not think about it in January.  Every dollar out needs to be balanced by dollars in.  I know it’s Christmas—but January is coming.

6.  stressors–I am a preacher, and I think I have figured out something.  People don’t need to be “preached at” this Christmas season. They have enough in their lives right now that they don’t need someone else railing on them.  They need some support, and some encouragement, and some sanity.  Like any stressful season in life they need lost of love and maybe even a couple of hugs.  Sure they may have some big twists in their souls—but do I really think that if I put them in a headlock and yell at them they’ll suddenly change?   Mmmmmm.

Anyway, I am sitting here on a Monday morning with a cup of coffee, three apointments to get to today…feeling like I am behind.  Yep, I am.  Smile.  I guess the hurrier I go the behinder I get.    My advice—build a coffee break into your life regularly.  It won’t solve it entirely but it’ll help.

PS the Connecticut thing didn’t help did it.  Unbelievable.  Not to diminish anything but can we imagine the wailing of mothers in the Jerusalem region when the paranoid Herod heard of one “born king of the Jews” ordered the execution of all male babies under two in order to protect his place on the throne.  Protecting our children is our first assignment as parents…and when we can’t do it…God help us all.