Feeling Grinchy? Here's how to fix that.


Ahhh, Christmas…

A time when holiday cheer abounds. When peace is on earth. When we all get along swell with our family, friends, & coworkers.


Traffic is insane. God forbid you reach for the same toy as another person at the gift shop. And families? “Quit crying and smile for the camera, little Timmy!”

Image used with permission. Created by Lisa Zins.

Image used with permission. Created by Lisa Zins.

If you have a sensitive spirit, like me — or if you have any senses whatsoever — you can feel the craziness in the air.

The good news is that you’re not alone. You’re not “off” for feeling like the holidays are “off”. They’re more commercialized, more high-pressured, less authentic than ever! The other good news — who doesn’t like a double-dose of good? — is that we can fix it.

Here are 3 problems I’ve felt in my own heart this season that I’m sure will resonate with you:

  1. We focus on wintery holidayness, not Jesus.

  2. We focus on shopping, not giving.

  3. We focus on performing, not being present.

We focus on wintery holidayness, not Jesus.

There’s a whole slew of Christians who are yelling about “The War on Christmas” and just holding their breath for the world to change. Honestly, I’m not in that camp. Instead of battling the world for being …well, worldly… we should instead be living triumphantly in the Lord and showing a better way.

Think about it this way: Have you ever gone on a diet because some healthy person told you that you should? No! Well, I don’t know about you, but I have changed my eating habits based on my observation that someone who doesn’t eat candy all day lives a better life. I observed that healthy people don’t live sluggishly, sleep poorly, and overmedicate. I’ve incorporated kale, hummus, and vinaigrettes into my diet because healthy people eat those things regularly. I adapted to live the way people I admire live.

Frankly, screaming about a problem will never solve it. Telling people to change an external attribute without guiding them to Jesus to fix the internal issues — also never solves it.

What if instead we invited our neighbors into our homes to experience a Jesus-centered, Jesus-filled Christmas celebration? THAT would change the world. Not because of our invitation, but because we’ve invited Jesus into our conversation.

The Fix:

  1. Get in the spirit of Christmas by reading an Advent study. Russell & I are reading the She Reads Truth Advent reading plan, which is available for free on their website or app. It takes us through the story of Christmas, beginning with the Old Testament prophets and the need for a Savior and finishing with beautiful Bible passages about the life-changing work of Jesus.

    1. B …is for BONUS! I made an Advent playlist on Spotify which is all about Jesus! Check it out!

2. After you’ve re-centered your heart on Jesus, I encourage you to help your framily to do the same! Amidst the holiday parties and hooplah, step up and initiate a conversation about the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus our Savior. Simply share how Jesus has changed your life this year. Something really striking happens when we share truth. All of the temporary, shiny new distractions fade away. A cleverly disguised marketing ploy can’t grab attention like the truth of God: that we were all lost and dying, but God sent His only Son to live a cruel life on earth to save all of humankind. In Jesus, there is love and hope. In Jesus alone, there is peace within our souls.

I cannot emphasize enough that the way to go from Grinch-tastic to Holiday Cheermeister begins with a heart-check. But the next thing that will keep you in a Grinchy mood is when…

We focus on shopping, not giving.

Did you notice this year that the Christmas shopping started earlier than ever? I followed the trend and published my first Gift Guide of the Christmas season in mid-November. And y’all have been so supportive of it! Thank you!

I wasn’t actually following the trend, though, because preparing for this Christmas season begun for me last year.

Last Christmas, I was stressed about being the perfect Santa to all my family & friends. Actually, this happens every year. I start buying and buying, wrapping and fluffing, only to get overwhelmed by it all and yet somehow feel like I’m still not offering enough. Have you ever felt that way?

A few days before Christmas last year, Russell and I watched “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, and instantly my heart was convicted. That scene where all the Whos in Whoville are frantically buying presents and shipping them at the post office… Followed by Cindy Lou Who singing “Where Are You Christmas?”… Shatter my heart and scatter the ashes. I’m undone.

I realized that I spent all my energy on shopping and gifting, rather than giving. So I wrote in my calendar book that on November 1st this year, I needed to watch The Grinch again to remember how gift-crazy I was last year — HA!

With the idea of giving in mind, I decided to create this year’s Gift Guide To Support Women-Owned Businesses featuring several of my friends who provide beautiful merchandise. This way, I’m using my gifts of writing and influencing in a way that is a gift in itself. True support in buying your friends’ merch and recommending them to people is a gift, and one that gives back to you as well.

Neuroscientist Kira Shaw points out: “Generosity has been linked with the reward circuitry of our brain, causing the release of dopamine and endorphins. The chemicals that cause this high can reduce stress and increase your desire to repeat these acts of kindness.”*

The Fix:

My challenge to you is that instead of asking, “What can I buy my friends for Christmas?”, ask “What can I give?” Maybe your mom would rather you clean the house than to have a 10,000th kitchen gadget. Maybe your friend would just like a coffee date over another candle.

Of course…I still like allll the candles ;) Seriously, don’t stop giving me candles!

I’m just saying expensive gifts are not as lovely as thoughtful giving. Am I right?!

Speaking of presents… The last problem that will leave you feeling Grinchy this Advent season is when…

We focus on performing, not being present.

Y’all know I like to perform. I like creating fancy dinners and cute little Kodak/Instagram moments. I like all that. But too often, the pressure to outperform that SouthernLiving article / Pinterest pin / professional Instagrammer overwhelms the occasion and we’re left with this tense, unhappy ordeal.

I’m speaking to myself as much as I am to you:

“Your presence is a present.”

If the holiday ham is a little burnt… If the napkins don’t match the plates… If the presents aren’t a big hit… If all we get out of Christmas is time with family reflecting on Jesus’ great love and sacrifice for us… That’s enough. It’s more than enough. It’s a slice of Heaven on earth, and I’d like to revel in that bliss.

Dr. Shaw observes: “The bond between you and those special to you can result in the release of a hormone called oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin – sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone” – drives maternal behaviour, trust, and social attachment.”*

As I grow older, I care less about the occasional gift for annual occasions, and I care more about the memories I get to make with friends + family. The greatest gift I’m going to get this year is a couple of days with Nonnie, a couple of days with my family, and a week with our Papa+Grandma and great aunt+uncle. We’ll be laughing & sharing, drinking mulled wine & nibbling on all the treats, playing dominoes & watching Hallmark movies.

You can’t buy that at the store. It’s priceless. Truly, your presence is the greatest present.

The Fix:

Lay down the ribbons & tape. Put aside your phone. Release yourself from the sky-high expectations for the “perfect” holiday and just be present. Soak up each moment as it happens and give yourself fully into the moment.

After Christmas is over, those sweet memories will fill your heart. Instead of feeling Grinchy, you’ll feel gratitude.

The 3 ways to fix a Grinchy mood:

  1. Focus on Jesus.

  2. Focus on giving.

  3. Focus on being present.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas!

With love,

Featured photo by Isabella Costello.

*Source: Kira Shaw via http://theconversation.com/five-ways-christmas-affects-your-brain-70361