Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holday Stress

Seems to me that magazines, newspapers and yes! even blogs,
begin  in November with notes and instructions, tips and sure-fire ways…methods to  have a
stress-free holiday eason!

I am now a Senior Citizen---and spend plenty of time remembering Christmas Past.

The earliest stress at Christmas that I can recall was my Freshman year at Eldon High School.
   There was: {and I checked it out in the year book}

Choir at the Church Big Christmas Program
{back then teens sang in the adult choir and were expected to do more, really than the Adults}

Music Programs at School  
{Our Mixed Chorus sang at most of the churches in town... Big Program at School done twice.....Band Concert, Girls Sextet, Trio, and German Band playing at service clubs etc.   Marching Band played and marched in the  Jefferson City Christmas Parade}

Add to that Basketball Season was getting underway, and that was
big doings in Eldon!   Miss a ballgame?  Unheard of!!!  
We didn’t have football, so all eyes were on the gym.

I earned my little monies by baby sitting at that time. 
Young adults with small children were no different than now, parties call for babysitters.
You know, nothing compares to Christmas in a small town.

The next three years, more and more of the same,
but you need to add dating to the mix.  
I must admit, I liked that part!

Then there were New Years Eve  parties and I certainly did not want to miss
a single one.  I don't think I ever did, really. 

We generally had some snow at
that time of year, so there were also sledding parties,
ice skating without skates,
bon fires and hot chocolate and singing and fun.....and stress!   

I just had to be  ALL-IN all the time.  In everything!

Now let me tell you I think that is just the time I became a Stress Junkie!
I became a Mrs. when I was just 19.
Later that year, my Mr. joined the US Army.
We had a Baby Boy.
Man, that was some Thanksgiving!

Pvt. Buster was in Advanced Training and  didn’t know for sure that
 he would get any of the holidays off.
To our surprise, he was there the night after our son was born.
 He was there to take me home, in my Daddy's car, as we did not have any wheels of our own.
He even made it home on Christmas Eve.....right after local stores closed. 
Again, you gotta love a small town, because they opened up and sold him Christmas gifts for us!
That was a wee bit stressful!

That was the beginning for our family of many Thanksgiving and Christmases.
Pastoring a small country church.
Christmases on the move between Columbia, Green Grove, Eugene and Eldon.  
Celebrating Christmas with both families and our Church Family.
Getting Degree  from Missouri University

Then moving to Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky 
which brought us Christmas away from our parents and families.  
We had a big Christmas with our growing family, because the church we belonged to saw to it that there would be presents under the tree.
The second year there we had a Baby Girl to add to those two little boys.   

Now, if you want stress, here’s a formula. 
We had NO money:
Bob working nights and going to school days and I was babysitting and  taking in laundry

We had Christmas.
That was a new kind of stress!

He graduated and we moved to Pioneer Mission work.
Christmas plays-somebody had to write them-so I did.
Music-somebody had to play the piano and get kids singing- so  Rae and I did.
Decorating home and church
Making School Christmas programs
Delivering food to folks who were needy
Singing to Shut-ins
who wereliving in homes (before there were laws against such things)

Yep!  We had stress! 
 But you know what? 
 It was lovely!

Until our children all graduated from high Sshool and beyond
 there have always been Music Programs at our churches.
{There still are but I no longer sing in them}

 The children moved.
 To places in  Europe, Macedonia, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma
New York, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia,Tennessee, Pennsylvania etc. etc. etc.  

 I must add that we moved, the Preacher and I, to Alaska.
There,  we were REALLY separated from our children and parents.
We did not leave our church at Christmas because we needed to be there.
Our congregation was young and away from home.   
We felt they needed us.  You know what? 
It turned out they did.  

We spent those Holidays away from our blood kin,
 but oh!  the joy we had and celebrated with the Family of Christ. 

In all this there were parties, programs, plays and writing and staging and doing
and helping.    We did them all, just like when our children were the little ones. 

Our family is still scattered all over the USA.   We have little great-grands singing, acting,
playing piano, in programs in lots of states.   We are not able to be there to see them and applaud. 

So now, in this stage of life, the stress is so different.
But let me assure you, it is stress, all the same.
Now, you might say,
“Listen here, old lady! Aren’t you are retired?  You are supposed to be stress free!”
Is that what you think? 

Yeah!  Right!!!

In a way you are right.
Sure I have stress , but it is not the same type of stress.
My stress has to do with medical issues, with intangible things that come with age.

 I told my little tale above to be able to say this:
It has been my observation that we would lose something if
we did away with all holiday stress. 
 It is like being on edge.
Like letting loose the emotion that goes with the season,
with this stress comes
 happy tears
 just a bit of sadness
oooohs and  aaaahs
and that warm feeling of love
that flows over you when you behold the Christ Child in his manger bed

 Being a little edgy and being charmed  and awed anew
 with the wonder of little children in choir robes singing Silent Night.
Not being consumed with the material, but consumed with the Love of God,
the giving of the Word, the song of the angels, and the Love of God! 

You go ahead and try to make your holidays stress-free, if you like.
But, for what it’s worth, I'll take some stress and if you don't…
I think you’ll miss out on some rare emotions and blessings!!!



  1. I love this ... thank you, Bigmama, for reminding us that stress is nothing new and that a little bit of chaos can be good for us!

  2. This is wonderful, as always! The only thing that could make an Oma story better is if you were here saying it to my face. I love you much!

  3. As always, Mother, your perspective is worthwhile and makes me think. Love you!

  4. Mrs. Buster, I don't know you, but I feel that I do, because I grew up in that very same small town of Eldon and enjoyed many of the same sources of holiday stress you mentioned! And you know, it is only since I have become an adult that I have considered those pursuits and engagements stressful. Thanks for reminding me to confront Christmas, embrace the busyness, and allow the Baby in the manger to make it worth it all!
    Sandra Herren Colhour