Mental Health Monday: Christmas is Coming!

keep calm ChristmasChristmas is coming. Six weeks from this Thursday. How do I know this? Yesterday I was shopping at Macy’s and there was Christmas music playing. Yes. Before Thanksgiving. This really bothers some people, but I love it. I also love all the red boxes and bows and glittery things throughout the store. I found myself humming along with the music and smiling at people more.

Preparing for Christmas brings joy and excitement to some, but fear and anxiety for many. Sometimes the anxiety comes from personal or family “issues.” But often it’s simply a case of feeling overwhelmed by our “to do” lists.  I’ve decided to dedicate my Mental Health Monday posts from now until Christmas to helping us all have a more peaceful and joyful time preparing for this holiday. has a Christmas Countdown that some folks might find helpful. But for some reason it started on October 26 (what’s up with that?) and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like they’re already behind before getting started! You can even print off a countdown calendar, but again, I’d adjust it to start this week, which is still six weeks before Christmas. The point is to get organized any way you can. Me? I make lists:


Make airline reservations if you’re traveling for Christmas (we’ll be in Denver with grandkids!)

Make lists for menus and grocery shopping if you’re hosting (I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year.)

Design/order Christmas cards. (almost finished)

Address & mail cards.

Make Christmas gift list for friends & family (ask the kids for ideas for the grandkids early—especially if you’re shipping out of town.)

Shop early and ship early to avoid higher shipping costs.

Ship directly from mail order sources—look for free shipping whenever possible. (I have gifts for grands shipped to Denver, along with gift wrapping ordered online. Once we get there, I enjoy wrapping the gifts.)

SYBIL_MACBETHIf you’re a spiritual person, you’re probably trying to figure out how to do all the “busy” things while still keeping focused on the “reason for the season”—the birth of Jesus Christ. When our kids were young, we used things like a movable Nativity set (to move Mary and Joseph closer to Bethlehem each day leading up to Christmas) and Advent calendars to build anticipation. My friend, Sybil MacBeth, has a terrific new interactive book which will launch this coming Thursday night at the Booksellers at Laurelwood (Memphis). It’s called The Season of the Nativity: Confessions and Practices of an Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Extremist.

I’m working on themes for the next six Mondays. (If you’ve got ideas or want to submit a guest post, please email me at Here are some themes I’m tossing around:

Almsgiving—reaching out to the poor, homeless, or others in need

Parties—opportunities to celebrate the season

Food—ideas for easy holiday cooking

Fasting—the counterpoint to feasting (my least favorite part of the season, and yet….)

Prayer/Church Services—our experiences in the Orthodox Church (and I’d love to hear from other church traditions)

Family traditions—stockings, hiding the Christmas pickle, Secret Santas, and more

This week’s theme? Keep Calm and take it one day at a time. ENJOY the season!