Christmas is Here! Breathe Easy.

As so often happens when I express what’s in my head and on my heart, the words take on a life of their own and run away with me … and I’m led into something much deeper {and lengthier} than I first intended. This is a continuation {part 2} of my last post called “The Holidays Are Here! Just Breathe!”

The original post was intended to be a short blog entry not a book, so I decided to turn it into a two-parter. Lol!  Thanks for sticking with me and my random ramblings about the holiday season.  I’m hoping the forthcoming message helps you in some small way.

As I reflect on bygone holiday seasons, I’m reminded how greatly I cherish all past Christmases and their accompanying memories. Certainly the vast majority of them have been amazingly joyful celebrations and harmonious family gatherings.  However some were marred by unexpected and stressful circumstances, uninvited drama or emotional outbursts. But I appreciate even those because they challenged me, changed me and molded me into a better person.

Life and personal growth is not a destination, but an ongoing journey. Along the winding path we travel, we’re influenced by many experiences … some good and happy others painful … but if our heart and mindset is right, we can learn and benefit from them all.

As a result of some of life’s most difficult challenges where I was tested to the max,  I’ve thankfully acquired more skillful coping mechanisms, a greater understanding of human nature … and a stronger, deeper faith. Life’s lessons are great teachers.  While we journey together through life, we must each choose our own way.  The twists and turns, ups and downs and resulting experiences shape us into who we are today … and who we will become tomorrow … because transformation and growth is not a single event but an ongoing process.

The experiences {and survival} of many holidays, has taught me much about life, relationships and family dynamics. My own personal growth has been huge. Through life’s delightful surprises and its hard realities, I have mellowed … and grown in experience and wisdom. 

I feel very grateful for the many lessons learned …

This post is a little Christmas gift to you … from me. Perhaps something you read will resonate with you, touch you, provide comfort, give you encouragement or hope … or bless you where you are on your own journey. Here are five significant and meaningful lessons I’ve learned and applied … ones that have helped me through many a wonderful Christmas season.

Be intentional and breathe easy
Go into the holidays with a sense of intention. Decide to be joyful.  Resolve to respond to people rather than reacting to what is said, or situations you encounter.  Breathe through anything and everything that is thrown at you. That includes the excitement, the joy, the stress and the roller coaster of heightened emotions.

Breathe deep and slow … in and out to the count of four!  Relax and breathe easy. I promise it helps. As you approach this beautiful holiday, be prepared, especially mentally and spiritually. Adjust your attitude, pray, set your mind to one of gratitude for what you have, and flatly refuse to pine over what you don’t have!  Seek out the good qualities in those around you and decide right now … before you’re in the throes of it all … to overlook and forgive any past transgressions. Yours and theirs.

Less rush … more hush!
This is one reason we early birds start off the Christmas season before Thanksgiving! We want a head start on it. I’ve learned when you pace yourself you can avoid the last minute crazy, stressful mad dash to the Christmas dinner finish line. When you begin early, you can move at a slower, steadier pace with less stress. It’s sustainable, you remain calmer and it’s more enjoyable for you and those around you. Avoid the rush and enjoy more of the hush of the season … the tranquility.

Breathe easy … breathe in the peace of Christ.

Speaking of peace, silence the meaningless noise.  Shut off those cell phones and shut out the peripheral distractions of incoming alerts, dings and beeps. 

Resist all temptation to jump on social media at the expense of those dear ones right beside you. Make sure you’re fully in the moment with your loved ones. One of the greatest gifts you can give them is to be 100% present with them.

Expect less … accept more
When we expect people or circumstances to be or behave in a certain way, we’re looking through our own lens and thinking this is the way it “ought to be”. Problem is we’ve not taken their wants, needs and feelings into consideration. This often leads to disappointments.  On the other hand, when we accept people and circumstances for who and what they truly are, we have fewer disappointments, we’re less frustrated and the rewards for us are greater happiness … and a whole lot more peace … for all.

The higher the expectation, the greater potential for disappointment. Example!  In my younger day I envisioned Christmas as a picture-perfect fairy tale, complete with snow, the log fire crackling, the family gathered around the tree. Everyone laughing and loving on each other, with carols playing non-stop as presents were opened … Christmas dinner on the way, followed by fun games and happy family togetherness.  Hmmmmm!  And of course elephants fly!!! Well I can dream can’t I?

Of course that was my dream Christmas setting … my expectation … now theirs might have looked a little different. Boring football games weren’t even on my horizon, but some of the family eagerly looked forward to and expected football! Ugh!  That means we have to turn off the beautiful, soothing Christmas music?  How disappointing!

Others, having gorged on the full Christmas dinner were not inclined to watch football or play board games … they had a snooze in mind!  What? You’re kidding me, right? And those dirty dishes will magically jump into the dishwasher and clean themselves? Really? How disappointing!

You see what I mean about expectations? You can fall hard … as I did a few times before I learned to turn expectations into acceptance and I exchanged righteous indignation for unconditional resignation.

Let’s just say that the larger and more varied the personalities and ages in the extended family, the happier everyone is when we expect a little less of what “ought to be” and we learn to be more accepting of the way things really are … in terms of both circumstances and family members. It is what it is!  Accept the reality. Embrace each person’s individuality and their traits … their admirable ones and … grrrrrr … the flipping annoying ones too! The latter is not so easy, but trust me it can be done. I’ve learned to do it – you can too.

Lastly, acceptance is not being complacent or dismissing all expectation … it’s having a positive expectation, but also knowing what to do when expectations aren’t met.  So for sure envision and dream big, be filled with positive expectation but stay flexible …learn to let go and go with the flow.

Breathe easy! Condition yourself to become a master of acceptance.

Ditch the drama and embrace humor
Lol! Life was so much simpler when the kids were little, just ask any Grandparent.

When your kids grow up, marry and have children of their own, life becomes a whole lot more complex and complicated in an escalating manner, especially around the holidays. When your children’s children have children? OMG!  It’s crazier than ever! Holidays turn into a zoo in a jungle!! This is where a sense of humor is not only essential, it will literally save your life … haha … and theirs!

And yes my friends, we do have to share some of that premium holiday time with the in-laws. It’s only fair … and yes I know full well that the time and times are not always fairly and evenly distributed. Lol! You think I don’t know?? I’ve lived it! The expanding tribe brings a boat load of complex circumstances that will sideswipe even the most intuitive, loving and worldly ones in the family … and it’ll knock us to our knees if not prepared.  Let’s face it, there’s no class or manual that can prepare anyone for this. Most of us fly blindly or by the seat of our pants into this uncharted territory. 

The changes and challenges that accompany this chapter of life can charge emotions and easily spark family drama.

Look at it this way … the gene pool runs very deep, so when you combine DNA differences with personality variations and you add learned behavior patterns, combine it with whatever each family member is personally dealing with in their life at any given moment, then you throw someone “new” into the family mix with a totally different set of DNA, upbringing and personality, you have a perfect recipe for misunderstandings, differences of opinion … and conflict!  And then you inject unrealistic expectations into the ring? Well it could turn into all-out-war! Nooooo!

There’s another element to take into consideration! Be aware that all families know the exact triggers to pull and buttons to push for each family member, so a word of warning. When they pull one of your triggers? Don’t fire a shot! Do not go off on them! And don’t even think about touching one of theirs!  Hey I know tit-for-tat can be tempting, but don’t go down that road.  Rise above it.

When emotions run high and sparks begin to fly, take it on yourself to be the one in the family who brings calm to the situation. Be the unifier not the divider. Don’t fan the flames of conflict because someone pushed a button that rang your chimes. You’re stronger than that! Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the trap. You’re bigger than that. Hard as it is, shake it off.  If you feel tensions rising within, ditch the drama.

Walk away and breathe easy!

Focus on the reason for the season
The only reason for Christmas is because of Christ. God’s greatest gift to mankind is the reason Christmas exists at all. December 25 is the day set aside to celebrate the birth of God’s son … our Lord and Savior. Like it or not, He’s the reason there is a Christmas holiday at all. And if I’ve lost you at this point, please understand that it’s entirely up to you whether you believe in Him or not, but fact remains that either way, this particular holiday is rooted in the birth of Christ. 

No greater gift was ever given, yet each year it seems our culture drifts further from the true meaning of Christmas as the secular eagerly embrace the seductive worldly attributes of what’s become the holiday season.

It’s easy to get caught up in it all … trapped in the hustle and bustle, so enthralled in the glitter and glitz of it all. So mesmerized by the dazzling flashing worldly lights that we become blinded to the one and only Light of the World.  This is the season of giving and as we’re all wrapped up in the exchange of presents, let us not forget that the greatest gift has already been given … and it’s ours to receive and accept.

I love everything about Christmas, the decorations, the tree, the Santas and light shows too, and while all these things are shiny, fun and uplifting, they may brighten us for a while and make us feel good, but they can never satisfy the yearning in our hearts that only Christ can fill. 

There is no substitute for the Prince of Peace.

So as we lift a glass of cheer this Christmas, let’s clink our glasses to the King of Kings and express deep gratitude for His birth. Let’s honor Him by loving one another. Let’s be grateful for our families … whole or broken. Let’s give thanks to and for our loved ones near or far … and take time to express our love, whether it’s in person at home, or over the phone to those far away. The gift of time and attention is priceless and meaningful.

Give love freely and unconditionally, as it has been given to you.

Breathe easy this Christmas. Start now. This season, promise yourself to be of good cheer. I wish you the most harmonious and joyful Christmas ever! Blessings!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 


  1. my dear sis, your words are so true .your wisdom and help is so appricated by me .yes christmas is a time for forgiving the past and marching into th new year with the faith in GOD and his SON to care and love everyone .we are all family and we have many branches on our tree. some bend and some brake ,but we all have the same rooots from from which we grow and learn.lets keep the tree growing with love and caring next year after all we are all Tripps no mater were we go and no matter which way we sway on this tree of life. SO hang on for dear life and enjoy yourself. remember the apple doesnt fall to far away from the tree .and i love all the apples on my tree even if some are rotten.just kidding, maybe a little spoiled my love to all my apples

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