Good morning, Five Minute Families! It’s Christmas week. Lights are strung in trees and on homes. Some loosely and haphazardly; some straight and timed blinking to music. The typical Christmas plays and nativity scenes abound. Just as someone pointed out in our Bible class this Sunday, the plays and scenes aren’t quite as accurate we would like to think, however.
Mary and Joseph traveled to a crowded town with constant noise and smells. It is perfectly normal to dislike crowds. Some people simply feel frustrated by being delayed on their path, some are overstimulated by the noise - both auditory and visual, and some people have true social anxiety. It may have been difficult to find food, especially if there were no rooms to be found. That many people and animals would have been a continual cacophony that would have been wearing and even frustrating if you were pregnant, hangry, and just plain tired from the journey.
Let’s think of her labor and delivery of the sweet baby Jesus for a moment. No epidural, no doctor, no midwife… no clean rags - just a dirty, odorous stable. She may have been able to labor and deliver on clean straw or hay, but have you ever lain in straw or hay? It isn’t necessarily the most comfortable.
What about your house? Is it a mess from those last minute decorations you are putting up or wrapping you are doing? Maybe it is from the simple paper crafts you are doing with the kiddos this year. Maybe it is a mess because you are blessed to be surrounded by family - and all the things they bring with them and all the extra trash they generate. In any case, look around at your mess for a bit. How does the mess make you feel? If everywhere I look holds a clutter, I begin to feel agitated. The list of tasks piles up in my mind, and the chaos of the visual becomes a chaos in my brain. Research shows that clutter can affect anxiety levels, sleep quality, and focusing capabilities.
So, five-minute families, how should we deal with the messy - whatever your messy may be this Christmas season:
First, we recommend you take 5 minutes to make a meal plan. The meal plan should not just be the desserts you need to bake or the Christmas meal itself. Include some veggies and fruits and other healthy snacks to better fuel your body and your brain to keep the nutritional mess that can ensue with too many sweets at bay.
Second, plan two or three 5-minute pick-up times through the day to simply focus on the clutter. By removing some of the clutter that is accumulating, you help your mind and heart stay focused on what’s truly important.
Third, add in two or three 5-minute cleaning times. After you pick up the clutter, take just a few minutes to clean the underneath surface. Don’t feel that the whole room must be cleaned at once (unless you truly have the time and cleaning doesn’t keep you from being with your loved ones). Some families clean the kitchen all together at least once a day through the holidays so that no one person has to bear the full weight of the cleaning going on.
Fourth, we must take 5 minutes a day for a mood and emotions check-in. For little ones in the family, this can be done with a mood chart printed off the internet. For older kids and adults, you can speak briefly with them and ask them what is happening in their hearts. If someone is struggling, you may need to go on immediately to our fifth suggestion.
Fifth, each person may need 5 (or 10 or 15) minute deep-dive emotional check-in at least once during this week depending on what has been happening, especially in the preceding year.
We need to understand that each of us is affected differently by the sights and smells and sounds of family fun times. The game playing is fun but someone may be in overload mode. The cookie making is yummy, but someone may be remembering a special moment with someone who has died. Whatever is happening in our homes, let’s minister to one another as Christ so lovingly taught us through His example by coming to earth, giving up all His heavenly perfection - and cleanliness, and coming in the form of a little babe, entering into our messy world and making a way for us to live not only an eternally abundant life but an earthly abundant life as well.
May God shine His holy light on your family this season, guiding each of you into deeper relationships one with another. Be blessed and Merry Christmas!