I’ve gotten into the habit of dealing with stress by not dealing with it—just not thinking about it until I have to. Sometimes, this helps, because I can’t worry about things I can’t do anything about. Other times, this means I’m not as prepared as I should be… such as when I headed off to Seattle for a weekend without any American money, because I put off planning for the flight and the trip until the last minute. It also means I ignore the excitement along with the stress.
As I think about Christmas, I see myself using this technique. Christmas is a hugely exciting time—presents and family and special events and great food and beautiful music—but wishing for it doesn’t make it come any faster. And there are stressful moments about the holiday, like finding the perfect gift for everyone or dealing with tense family situations. So I put it off, not thinking about it until I have to deal with it.
This year, I’m trying to appreciate all the beauty of the season. To spend time in preparation for those wonderful events and to think about them with excitement. To anticipate the reactions of my family and friends as they open the presents we’ve chosen for them. Even that long drive back to Alberta is a chance to spend time with my husband and daughters, talking and laughing and entertaining ourselves.
In the Bible, we find a story of a man who has spent a very long time waiting for and anticipating something. Luke tells us,
“A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple . . . Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God” (Luke 2:25-28 CEB, emphasis mine).
That’s one of my favourite Bible stories. I love the picture of this old man taking the tiny baby into his arms and praising God after he has waited so long for this day. Because he anticipated the wonderful things God would do, He saw those things. He recognized Baby Jesus.
This year, I want to be like Simeon. I want to anticipate all the joys to come and to thank God for them.
What are you anticipating this year? And how do you deal with both the anticipation and the stress of this season?
Check out the other posts in my Advent 2011 series:
First Sunday: Preparation
Second Sunday: Anticipation
Third Sunday: Rejuvenation
Fourth Sunday: Reconciliation