Christmas: how much is too much?

This time of year brings celebration, the opportunity to spoil our children and falling prey to overindulgence.  People struggle with setting limits for themselves in buying gifts for others, placing a substantial amount of pressure on themselves to buy “just the right gift “. What results is feeling overwhelmed, financially strained, and feeling a little less holiday spirit then preferred. How do we get back to being in a joyful state of mind amidst shopping, baking, attending choir concerts, and attending Christmas parties?

What is Christmas about?

This is a simple question, yet when we forget to ask ourselves this repeatedly throughout the holiday season, we can find ourselves over extending our time, our money and ourselves to things that are not in fact evidencing our desire to celebrate Christ’s birth. Christmas is a symbolic celebration of the event in history that triggered God’s start to bridging the gap to our salvation. With Christ birth, the availability of salvation was made. God used Christ, himself in man form, to demonstrate his love for us through Christ birth and death. Ask yourself: are my choices this holiday season evidencing my celebration of this glorious gift from God? Am I rushing from one place to another? Am I more irritable with my children and my spouse because the schedule is too full and everyone is overextended? Am I putting too many expectations on myself to get everyone a gift they are expecting or desiring? Do I look celebratory in my irritability and in my stress? Have I unintentionally created an expectation in my children and loved ones to expect me to give just the right gift regardless of the cost? Have my children learned to look forward to that moment on Christmas, the gift opening, so much so that faces of disappointment are inevitable if I haven’t met every request?

Setting limits for ourselves it’s just as important as setting limits for children. Our children, young or old, need to learn the reason for this season. It is not gifts. It is Jesus‘s birthday party. Why do we give our children gifts on someone else’s birthday? This is a cultural tradition that has come to be part of celebrating Christ’s birth. How can we reign things in?

Set simple limits for yourself. What is your Christmas budget? Is it a realistic budget? Do you limit the number of gifts per child? In what way do you do that?

In family we follow one simple rule: Jesus got three gifts so you get three gifts. You don’t get more gifts than Jesus did on his birthday. This has allowed us to keep the holiday about Jesus‘s birth and has allowed us to assert control over spending. This has allowed us to be very intentional about the gifts we give our children. We make rainbow color pancakes with birthday candles on Christmas morning to celebrate Jesus‘s birthday and we sing happy birthday. These are the traditions we have established to help both the adults and the children remember that on that it’s not about us. We are just people attending the party. Take time to reflect on how you set limits for yourselves. This is the way children learn to set their own limits. In a culture of immediate gratification, it is our responsibility to model self-control and financial responsibility to our children. It is our responsibility to model the same values in managing our time during the holidays. When we do this, we benefit, our children benefit, our marriages benefit, our spirits benefit. What are you doing to make sure you’re celebrating Christ’s birth this holiday?

Eileen earned her Masters of Art degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy from Adler Graduate School in Richfield, MN after obtaining her undergraduate degree in Psychology and French from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Eileen’s professional experience has included assessment and therapeutic intervention work with pediatric and well as adult clients. As a licensed professional clinical counselor, Eileen uses a frame work of family systems and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Eileen believes in optimally supporting parents and clients, providing parenting education and support, and empowering clients to establish individualized goals.  By guiding clients to build self-awareness, Eileen works with individuals and families to strengthen, support and encourage as they build insight and learn to improve their day-to-day functioning and overall quality of life.

Eileen has more than 8 years of experience working with children, adolescents, adults and families experiencing stressors such as:

  • Divorce
  • Marital dissatisfaction
  • Autism
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome(FAS)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Parenting concerns
  • Weight management
  • Eating disorders
  • Abuse and trauma
  • Grief and Loss

Having worked in both in-home and office settings, Eileen works with individuals and families to strengthen, support and encourage as they build insight and learn to improve their day-to-day functioning and overall quality of life.

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