Let me ask you a question: So far, this season how many times have you heard and read the phrase, “Tis the Season to be Jolly”? We sing it in our Christmas carols, we read it on the cards we give one another, we hear it on television programs. “Tis the Season to be Jolly.” But is it? Is it really “the season to be jolly”? Let’s be honest—really honest—for a moment. Sometimes Christmas is not all that it’s cracked up to be. This can be for several reasons:
• Sometimes we have a picture in our mind of what the perfect Christmas should be but, no matter how hard we try, the reality never quite measures up.
• We may have lost a loved one whom we sorely miss and the memory of Christmases past when our loved one was with us intensifies our feelings of loneliness. All through Christmas we see the empty chair that’s no longer used.
• Sometimes, issues that we deal with throughout the year (health problems, financial worries, loneliness) intensify during this season of jolliness.
• And, let’s face it, sometimes the pressures that comes with Christmas (decorating, shopping, baking, sending out cards, etc.) just get to us. We have a feeling of being overwhelmed and under pressure and part of us just wants to run away from it all.
So, if you see yourself in the preceding, what should you do? Let me make a few suggestions:
• Don’t try to force yourself to feel a certain way. Feelings are neither good nor bad; they are simply what they are—feelings. Give yourself permission to feel the way you do without adding guilt to the mix. And don’t let others make you feel guilty for feeling the way you do.
• Let go of the illusion of the “perfect” holiday. Enjoy the things you can enjoy and appreciate them for what they are without insisting that everything be perfect.
• Reach out to others during the holiday season. Volunteer at a soup kitchen; have a single friend, a widower, or an international student over for dinner; buy gifts for underprivileged children. One great way to forget your own troubles is to focus on the needs of others.
• Focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Remind yourself that Christmas is not about tinsel and trimmings, buying and spending, or even spending time with friends and family. Christmas is about the God of the universe taking on human flesh and dwelling among us so that we can have a relationship with Him. Take a few moments each day to remind yourself of what this season is truly about. And, even if you’re not in the habit (or got out of the habit), go to church tomorrow.
• Remember, you’re not alone. A lot of people struggle with loneliness, sadness, and discouragement at Christmas—probably more than you realize.
Over the centuries, Christmas has gotten a lot of baggage tied to it. At its core, however, Christmas is a love story—a story about a heavenly Father who sent His Son into this messy, broken world to tell us that He loves us and wants to be a part of our messy, broken lives. This Christmas, may the true meaning of Christmas bring lasting joy to your heart!