“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens

What better way to “honor Christmas” than to play Christmas music year round?

OCD… Yes! I have it, and I am proud of it. Obsessive Christmas Disorder. Jenny tells me that playing Christmas music in September is a little over-the-top. I can’t help it. I love Christmas!

In fact, I can’t think of anything that I don’t like about Christmas. Well, maybe fruitcakes.

I love that it gets dark early and there are twinkly lights everywhere. I love Christmas decorations and seeing lots of red and green. I love the smell of cinnamon and cedar trees. I love party foods and Christmas time is party foods on steroids. I love gift giving and “of course” receiving gifts. Who doesn’t? I love seeing friends and family and sharing holiday cheer with others.

Love, cheer, giving, forgiveness, joy, sacrifice… These are words I think of when I think of Christmas. One word I deliberately left out of this list is “stress”. For many people, the holidays just seem to add more stress to their lives.

In our a Christmas video message, Jenny shared about reducing stress during the holidays. One way to do this is not to let “unmet expectations” put a damper on your holiday experience. Unmet expectations can often bring hurt, disappointment, and even anger to your holidays. What should be a season full of celebration and encouragement turns into a season of depression.

So, how can we prevent the hurt of unmet expectations from ruining our Christmas season?

Well, it’s easy. Don’t have any!

Now, before you discredit what I’m saying and stop reading, think about it. Why should we allow someone else’s actions to determine our happiness, contentment, or joy? You can’t control someone else’s actions, but you can control your response or reaction to them.

I sometimes tell Jenny that I expect the worst so I won’t be disappointed. She says I’m a pessimist. Maybe I am. Call it self-protection if you want to, but I want to be happy at Christmas. I don’t want to let negative feelings from unmet expectations influence my Christmas season.

If Jesus tells us to, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return…” (Luke 6:35) then how much more should we do this towards our friends and family? There is an inner peace that comes from lowering our expectations of others.

I’m not saying that having expectations of others is wrong. What I am saying is to be on the lookout for the “Scrooge” of Christmas. Those negative feelings that come from “unmet” expectations. If we can learn to do this during the Christmas season, then maybe we can do as Charles Dickens said and “keep it all the year!”