I want to be informed, but listening to the news and angry people on social media can be depressing. Every day, problems are brought to our attention. No wonder we lose our joy.  But we don’t want anything or anyone to steal our Christmas joy.

Maybe you need a reset like I do. Think about how you can bring joy to the season. Here are a few ideas:

1) Pace yourself. The Christmas season seems to expand every year. Shopping networks promote Christmas in July. Retail stores push decorations in October! By the time Christmas rolls around we are exhausted and not feeling joyful. One way to create joy is to delay a little to make it more special. Build a little excitement for the actual holiday. And if you are just getting started, pace yourself. Don’t rush to do things. Slow down and enjoy each activity.

2) Stay out of debt. Nothing can spoil Christmas joy like debt. Don’t fall victim to the spending fury. Develop a budget ahead of time and stick to it. Think homemade gifts, services you could offer, and other ways to give other than spending money on lavish gifts. Watch your on-line purchases as those dollars can really add up. If you went all out on Black Friday, consider your gift giving complete. Tis the season to be jolly, so spend within your means to keep the cheer.

3) Plan and then plan some more. Nothing creates stress like simply reacting to last minute details and having no plan. This is not the time of year to just roll with things. Get organized, think logistics, and work ahead. Shop early and get it done to avoid last minute gift buying stress. Cook ahead and make travel plans early enough to save on costs. Make lists and delegate tasks. The key is to be less reactive and more organized.

4) Get your mindset ready for the relatives. Focus on their good points, minimize time with them if they are particularly difficult, and remember this is the season of good cheer. Wait for that family fight until after the holidays. Agree to disagree and determine to be civil to each other. Decide to build positive moments with your family this year. Determine to be nice even if they are not. And intentionally create positive memories.

5) Lose the commercialization. Get off the commercialization and plan spiritual activities to celebrate the holidays. This will ground you and help you focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Attend Christmas services, do the advent candles, read the Christmas story, watch movies, plays, and attend choral events that put Christ front and center. A spiritual focus will help you get along better with others and approach the season with true joy because the message of Christmas is joy.  Joy to the world–the Savior comes!

C.S. Lewis once said, “The world defines joy as the intense happiness we feel when we satisfy a great desire.” He disagreed and believed that true joy is an unsatisfied desire ─ a deep longing for God that never ends. To put the joy back in Christmas, long for God, celebrate Christ’s birth and the communion we have with Him. One day, we will see Him face-to-face, a joy that will be fully realized.

Putting the joy back in Christmas