Christmas is hard. It’s bittersweet at best, and terribly painful at worst once you’ve lost someone you love. It’s a reminder of what you once had and what you won’t ever have again. As you see blissfully happy families and couples everywhere, how do you enjoy the holidays again?
First of all, I encourage you to remember what the holidays are truly about. Thanksgiving doesn’t really have to do with pigging out on a turkey feast. It means giving thanks to God in the middle of life. When we can praise God in the midst of tragedy, maybe we are closer to the true meaning of this holiday. At Christmas, we can remember that while we may have lost someone we love and life may be chaotic and difficult sometimes, Christ came to this earth to redeem and restore us. He came so death doesn’t have the final say. That’s the hope of Christmas.
The next thing I would say is do things that make you happy. I love decorating my house for Christmas. You can find sales at craft stores and inexpensive decorations at Wal-mart and dollar stores. Sometimes, surrounding yourself with pretty things is helpful to getting through a difficult time like the holidays. If you like Christmas lights (like I do!), round up that ten-year-old who’s rolling his eyes at you and drag that teenager away from his phone or video game for a minute and make them go with you. They’ll secretly enjoy it, and they can also be easily bribed with treats at the end. I also love to read Christmas stories and books to my kids, even if they don’t appreciate it. Christmas movies are always fun too. My daughter and I have already had way too much fun sipping hot chocolate while we watch Hallmark movies.
I have found it’s helpful to keep some of your old traditions but also to start new ones. Ask your kids which ones are meaningful to them as you make these choices. You may be surprised at which ones they enjoy and remember.
Do an advent devotional with your kids. It’s always good to remind them too of what the season is really about. Also, if you have older children, let them know it’s OK if they feel sad at times during the holidays. You can even ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them through this time besides praying for them.
It’s also OK to say no to events that will cause you undue stress or pain during the holidays. Don’t feel like you have to do everything. Depression and anxiety can get worse if you wear yourself out.
Sweet friend, go get some coffee, prop your feet up, and watch a good Christmas movie. I’m praying that the holidays can become a happy time again for you as you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.