Is the Stress Building Yet? If Not, Better Hurry.

November 30, 2017

We have all heard of the “hustle and bustle“ of the holidays so much that it is trite. We expect to say it. We can’t help ourselves. We probably don’t want to hear it anymore. I know I don’t. More deeply than that, I do not want to live that way.

Why do you suppose the Incarnation Holiday has become this way? When I think about this it makes me laugh to imagine that God had a conversation in the heavenlies with the divine council.

“We need to send Jesus as the son of God“.


“People are just not busy enough. They need less relaxation. I want to send Him so they are all riled up, wound up, stressed out, and frantic for a month every year.“

What a ridiculous conversation and concept. The Incarnation is about so much more. And less, if you catch the drift.

Of course. But we gotta do all these other things.

I love being with people, celebrating at gatherings and parties as much as you. But I do not want to be driven about it.

Why are we driven? It’s almost like there is an unwritten agenda, upon which I cannot quite put my finger. I think it relates to the feeling of something missing.


Is there some kind of personal lack? Do we need to hype up the joy because in reality we don’t have it much of the time? Do we need to impress ourselves? Impress others?

We seem to be frantic to grasp the coziness, the fuzziness, the cuteness, and everything else about what Christmas has accrued to itself before it slips from our grasp once more. We like the alternate reality and wish it would stay.

The Search for The Perfect Moment

Another thing I observe is that things that are done during the holidays seem to be done out of obligation.

  • It should be done because we did it before.
  • Other people expect me to do it.
  • This fulfills the tradition that has been handed down.
  • It wouldn’t be “Christmas” if we didn’t.

Who knows all the reasons? But I see inordinate indicators of fretting, stress, frustration, and fatigue. Merry Christmas indeed. Talk about the busyness of the holidays surfaces several times each year.

I want to slow down the celebration. Why just forlornly lament it while continuing it?

One good way to change the approach is to change how we think about it.

As a start, Christmas is not snow. Sorry to be so brutal, but it is not. That is, unless the majority population of the world was appointed to settle for substandard second-tier Christmas observance. And to further add to your consternation, Christmas has nothing to do with pumpkin spice latte.

It’s fine that you love it. It just doesn’t have any intrinsic connection with Christmas!

Nor is the Christ Mass about many of the other things that we have tacked on.

  • Reindeer
  • A mythical sled and its pilot
  • Frosty
  • Grinch
  • “Must-see” movies
  • Fantasies of coziness
  • Gift “exchanges“ (can those be gifts or are they transactions“)
  • Christmas songs 24 hours a day for six weeks straight. (some great, some shallow)
  • Escapism
  • The latest lighting
  • Perfect tree
  • Perfect table
  • Perfect food
  • Perfect guest list

Sure, nice. But isn’t the deeper understanding of Incarnation liable to be lost under the clutter? I think what we really like is tradition we have developed.

What approval do we seek?

Christmas is about Almighty God entering our domain as a human being, for a very sober purpose to be completed about 33 years later. Think for moments – better, for hours – on what Incarnation means. Just attend to that and see what it does for your heart.

The Incarnation
God living right here with us
Supreme gratitude

Reflect on the reality of the day of the birth of Jesus. There was nothing cozy about it. We have softened it up with art and imagination.

It was rough. It was smelly. Mary and Joseph slept in deprivation. Bethlehem was crowded, noisy, and harassed by a foreign ruler.

God in the flesh? How is it possible? Do you really believe it? Has it really happened?

Or did He really come so that stores could finally be profitable before the end of the year? Was that part of the conversation in the divine council eons ago?

“We have to do something about the profitability of business owners. ‘Christmas’ should do the trick.”

We get worked up about how businesses do not pay more attention to the “true meaning of Christmas“. I didn’t know they were called to do that.

People who do not know God probably will not feel compelled to do so. Maybe the Church should do more of this, being the salt of the earth that Jesus said we are. Church properties rarely display the Nativity for public consideration.

Maybe we need to adjust our own thinking and our activity more toward the “true meaning of Christmas“, and not just indulge our annual lament about it. Maybe we should change some of our practices.

Focus on the richly important:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Gratitude
  • Simplicity
  • True giving (as opposed to transactions)
  • Being at peace
  • Slowing down
  • Setting aside the sense of obligation. No. Violently kicking it out the door.

I have studied much for the last six or seven years about disease, knowing I had some prostate problems, and more intently since my diagnosis 14 months ago. The more I learn, the more I realize it is likely my diagnosis was self inflicted, by many means.

Stress underlies most disease, or at least informs its severity. I used to carry a lot of inner stress. Held it in. Carried it around. Many times have my insides been chewed over sundry situations.


The holidays have not necessarily been a large part of that, but more so than they are now. You will not find me stressed these next 6 to 8 weeks. You just will not.

I choose not to be.

The Incarnation did not come about to add to my list of duties and obligations to carry out to please someone or some system. (Click to Tweet.)

Not going to do it. And I will enjoy the holiday even though outwardly it may not look much like it to some observers.

Maybe you already think I’m a grouch or a grinch. No, I want to celebrate the richer, deeper, lasting, joyful things! The things that last! The Incarnation: God becoming man.

Are you mastering your emotions, or are your emotions mastering you? I am not talking about getting cynical about Christmas. Why do that? Just more stress. I am talking about realizing and relishing Reality.

Give gratitude to God Almighty for His unfathomable Incarnation. Then actually stop and breathe slowly. Don’t pass Him by because you’re so busy celebrating peripheral stuff.


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