Not So Merry and Bright: 3 Emotions Every Mom Feels at Christmas

We sing about Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year. We wish people a merry Christmas. We deck our halls, jingle our bells, and look at the sky for signs of a sleigh. The emotions tied to Christmas are those of hope, merriment, and wonder.

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, we experience those joyful emotions fully.

Yet as moms, we know that there’s more to the season than everything being merry and bright. There are three other emotions every mom experiences at Christmas: overwhelm, disappointment, and stress. Where do these emotions come from and what can we do about them?

1. Moms experience overwhelm at Christmas.

By “overwhelm,” I mean that feeling of having to do extra activities in addition to keeping daily life going. The laundry is still there, but now you have a box of Christmas decorations to unpack. The dinner needs to be cooked, but you also have cookies to bake. You have to go to work, but you want to create magical memories with your kids. And so on and so on forever.

Let’s face it, no matter how intentional you are about limiting activities, you still have more to do at Christmas than at any other time of year. You feel overwhelmed doing basic life functions plus every other “extra” that Christmas brings with it so…

What’s a mom to do with overwhelm?

Here’s what you’re not gonna do: you’re not going to throw your hands up in defeat. Now is the time to put up a fight!

Fight the belief that says you’re not enough and that you have to do more and try harder. Lean into the truth that Christ is with you always, and you are fully known and fully loved. Renew your mind and know that you are sufficient in Christ.

Fight the belief that says you can’t experience joy until the to-do list is completed. Lean into the truth that your body is a temple. Your temple may take the form of a baker, a chauffeur, or a party attender. Commit yourself to look for the sanctified among the commonplace– to let the work of your hands become the worship of your heart.

2. Moms experience disappointment at Christmas.

By “disappointment,” I mean that feeling that comes when you’ve worked so hard and people don’t appreciate your efforts. You baked cookies to decorate, but no one is interested. You planned a family movie night, but everyone has other plans. You’re disappointed so…

What’s a mom to do with disappointment?

Here’s what you’re not gonna do: you’re not going to let it go unexamined. Instead, you’re going to analyze what’s going on in your heart.

Analyze your expectations. “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen,” according to author Susan David. And expectations abound during the holidays. Soooooo… what are your expectations for this season? Do these match up with the expectations of others? Are your expectations helping or hurting your relationships?  

Ask yourself if you believe you’re owed. Feeling owed is the soil in which disappointment grows most easily. Sooooo… what do you believe you’re owed: recognition, thankfulness, time, or maybe attention? As moms we do so much for others that it’s easy to create transactional relationships, which can turn into opportunities for you to employ guilt to get your way. To banish guilt and reciprocity from relationships, ask God to show what you believe you’re owed and start to root out that entitlement.

3. Moms experience stress at Christmas.

By “stress,” I mean trying to live up to all the expectations everyone has around Christmas. You desperately want everyone to be happy and for your people to make magical and wonderful memories. The pressure for a perfect tree, meal, gifts, and decorations make you feel crazy so….

What’s a mom to do with stress?

Here’s what you’re not gonna do: you’re not gonna carry what isn’t yours to carry. Instead, you’re going to relinquish what isn’t yours.

Relinquish the belief that everyone must be happy and that you are responsible for their happiness. Evaluate where you feel responsible for the feelings of others. What is people-pleasing driving you to do? Are your activities and attitudes serving you well?

Relinquish the belief that you must meet unreasonable expectations. Expectations are taskmasters, and God came to free us from them. When you believe in and follow Christ as your Savior, He’s freed you from unreasonable expectations. God wants you free, not bullied by the taskmasters of expectations. He grants you freedom so you can worship and obey Him.

Moms, Christmas brings out all our feelings.

Christmas is wonderful, merry, bright, and joyful. It also highlights other emotions as well: overwhelm, disappointment, and stress. Mama, I encourage you to feel everything you’re feeling, but to always bring it back to Christ. He loves you and is quick to remind you of how crazy He is about you. He alone can set you free from all the expectations, beliefs, and frustrations keeping you away from joy this season.


This piece originally appeared at, published with permission.

Jill McCormick
Jill McCormick is the writer behind, a blog where she shares common-sense grace with the try-hard girl. Jill’s married to her high school sweetheart Ryan. They live in South Texas with their two daughters, born 18 months apart. Most days you’ll find her with a book in her hand or a podcast in her ears. She starts and ends everyday with sprinkles: on oatmeal for breakfast and on ice cream for dessert.

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