Christmas is coming! Undoubtedly, many of us are already busy with preparations—stringing lights, getting cards out in the mail, and shopping for our loved ones. And while many of these tasks are traditional markers of the season’s festivity, Christmas can also bring about feelings of anxiety. Perhaps it’s a daunting to-do list that seems as if it will never end. Maybe it’s navigating difficult relationships at family gatherings. Any number of circumstances can induce stress during the holidays. How can we account for some common obstacles in order to turn our attention to the Savior’s birth?
In this webinar from December 2015, Fr. Alex Goussetis, the Director of the Center for Family Care, and Dr. George Stavros, the Executive Director of the Danielsen Institute at Boston University, offer pastoral perspectives to navigate difficulties frequently associated with the Christmas season. The webinar’s objective is to acknowledge the stress that comes with the hustle and bustle of the period without forgetting our hearts’ destination is the manger in Bethlehem. Let us also go, in imitation of the Magi, to meet the Christ Child!
1. The Nativity Fast annually occurs between November 15-December 24. The Church prescribes these forty days as an opportunity to spiritually prepare for the glorious event of Christmas. Recall Christ’s visit to Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). While the season may have us busy with tasks like Martha, how can your family take an appropriate time to learn at Christ’s feet like Mary? How can your family make time for Church services? How can prayer and other spiritual activities still take place in your home?
2. This time of the year often affords time off from school and work, facilitating extended family interactions. This can be both a blessing and a challenge. Encountering uncomfortable relationships can be a frequent source of holiday stress. Is it possible to anticipate those potential situations in order to manage their discomfort? Additionally, can your family collectively dedicate time to for special activities—inside or outside of your home—to strengthen family bonds?
3. While good works are always appropriate, giving a little extra at Christmas helps to impart more hope to a weary world. In the season’s spirit of generosity, are there any charitable projects your family might undertake? It may be to offer a toy or clothes for a less-fortunate child. It may be to invite an isolated person over for dinner. It may be to shovel the snow from an elderly neighbor’s walkway. There are countless ways to extend ourselves as agents of Christ’s love during this time!