I’ve been there. For most people the Christmas holiday is a fun and beautiful time: Catching up with family and friends, movies and hot chocolate in front of the fire, Christmas pictures and parties, and Christmas Day with the ones you love the most. There’s a magical feeling in the air and people are nicer and more giving than they would be any other time of the year. Your favorite Christmas songs are playing on repeat and you just have the warm fuzzies. While this is the resounding feeling for most, this can be an awful time full of anger, resentment, sadness, and anxiety for others. Everyone is all joyful and happy and you're sitting there like....
Let’s look at some examples:
1. You lost your job or you just can’t afford Christmas this year. Every parent would love to shower their kids and those closest to them with tons of elaborate presents but the truth is that if you have to choose food and lights over gifts, food and lights will win every time. The electric company and the grocery store don’t care about your financial situation and they certainly don’t have to see the kid’s sad faces when they don’t have any presents to open. So what do you do?
2. You recently lost a loved one or you're going through a divorce. All of your special moments for the last several years include memories that include that special person…and you probably have a ton of pictures and videos that captured them. Your mantle and dresser has framed photos of you and that person and there are constant reminders of that person everywhere you turn. Now here you are, having to come face to face with a Christmas that just doesn’t feel the same and you’re asking God, “WHY?!”
3. Your family is all over the place. Sometimes the family is scattered all over the country and couldn’t arrange to be together this year or there has been fighting and fall-outs, and a once loving group of people now seem to hate each other. You might even be facing the fact that you’re going to have to spend the day with people who are going to pick fights and confront you with uncomfortable questions all day long. (We all have that family member with no filter or tact).
4. You have to work on Christmas. Your job requires you to work and your choice is either to show up to work on Christmas or call in and get fired. Or, you’re a member of the armed forces serving in a foreign land and nothing around you is familiar. You’re going to have Christmas dinner in a tent or a cafeteria with other soldiers who couldn’t go home.
So what do we do? How do you make it through?
1. One of the FIRST pieces of advice that I’m going to give you that applies no matter what your situation may be is to REFUSE to wallow in sadness. It’s not easy but every time you have a “woe is me” moment cast it out of your mind. Satan LOVES for you to be in these vulnerable positions because he will feed into your sadness and hold you hostage there for YEARS (I’m a delivered witness). Satan wants to keep you paralyzed in sadness and hopelessness because if he has a hold of your mind then he make you believe that there is no hope, that your life is over, and that you’ll never get out of your current situation and that things will always be desperate. “The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV. Understand that this scripture doesn’t just mean to physically kill you. Satan will KILL your spirit. He will STEAL your joy, and DESTROY your life. DON’T LET HIM WIN!!! So here’s how I cast something out of my mind. Once the negative thought comes immediately confront it and replace it with a positive thought and scripture. For instance: “I’m a bad mom/dad because my kids don’t have presents.” As soon as that thought comes replace it with “I am NOT a bad mom/dad but I AM SO BLESSED that I am even able to have children! They are alive and healthy and full of life! They bring me so many good moments and so much laughter! Thank you, God for my heritage from you because my children are a reward from you!” (Psalm 127:3-5). So turn off the “lonely Christmas” songs and the sad and depressing Christmas movies. Believe it or not these things are penetrating your mind and your mood. Decide that no matter what the day brings, you will NOT be depressed.
2. Don’t make an appointment with depression. So many times I read Facebook statuses that say something like “Tomorrow would’ve been my dad’s birthday. I’m going to pull out my liquor and my pictures and cry all day!?”
HUH?! So you’re making an appointment to be depressed? You have already spoken sadness and depression over your life! Do you realize by inviting depression in that it flows over into other areas of your life? Is that really what your loved one would’ve wanted?!
Decide that you’re going to make the best out of your day. Decided that you may have moments (and that’s completely ok and normal and healthy) but that you won’t allow yourself to wallow in them.
3. So you don’t have the money for Christmas gifts. I COMPLETELY understand this. There’s that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach because you had to break it to your kids that you won’t be able to get them all the gifts that they wanted, or maybe no gifts at all. So plan ahead your Christmas day to take the focus off of not being able to open gifts. Go to church, make homemade cookies together, serve together at a soup kitchen, make homemade cards and letters, specifically discuss the reasons why you are blessed and the special gifts each person already has (they know how to make you laugh, they’re always nice, etc)
4. You lost a loved one. You went through a break-up. You’re divorced. You’re in the military spending Christmas in an unknown place. Learn to create new traditions. I’ve gone through the loss of a parent and through holiday breakups. It’s tough when everything you’re used to is suddenly snatched from you and you’re left holding the pieces. If you’re feeling alone I can point you to several nursing homes or orphanages that would LOVE for you to come and spend a little time with them. Reach out to people who may be struggling financially and offer to buy presents for the kids. SERVE SOMEONE. Reach out to family members that you haven’t spoken to in a while. There is always SOMETHING that you can do that doesn’t involve sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. Buy random gifts and give them out to your fellow soldiers. Be the cheer that you wish someone would bring to you! I can remember one Thanksgiving that I was alone and NO ONE invited me for dinner! I was so hurt for about an hour but then decided not to be depressed. I got up, got really cute, and went and surprised every family member that I hadn’t seen in a long time. That year turned out to be awesome: I saw so many people that I hadn’t seen in forever and I was able to have Thanksgiving dinner with way more people than if I had been invited to someone’s house!
Remember: The meaning of Christmas is the story of Jesus Birth: Why He came and what He accomplished while on earth.
I hope that this post helps you! What are some ways that you've gotten through tough holidays?