As someone who finds Christmas as the only redeemable aspect of the awful season of winter, I am honestly anticipating the most wonderful time of the year with a little bit of backseat dread in my heart.
For the past 5 months, my family has been living out of boxes in our home. Back in April, we had a soot puffback in our house from our oil burner. As a result, we had to pack up and empty out our entire house (I mean, entire house) and put it in a POD so it could be cleaned, repainted
Our 3-year plan had been to put our house up for sale once we got it fixed up and ready to sell. Well, the insurance company did that for us, so when we packed up, we really packed up. We purged a lot of our belongings, only bringing back in the house what we really needed. The rest stayed packed up in boxes.
Well, after a deal falling through, a short break from selling, and now newly listing our house again, we are still living out of boxes.
And that’s why I’m dreading Christmas this year. Will we still be in our home? Will we be in the middle of moving? How can we celebrate when our whole existence is up in the air?
I’m resigning myself to accept this ‘forced simplification.’ But I won’t lie. It’s been hard. It’s been a tough time.
So how do you Celebrate Christmas When You Don’t Feel Like Celebrating?
Christmas can be tough for a lot of different reasons. Maybe it’s financial trouble. Maybe it’s sadness over strained family relationships. Maybe it’s marriage strife or health issues or the loss of a loved one. A few years ago, for 2 Christmases in a row, I was only weeks out from both of my miscarriages when Christmas rolled around.
As the matriarchs of our families, it’s pretty much expected that we are going to head up the festivities. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like celebrating.
As someone who has faced dark times during the Christmas season (and is going through a less-dark-but-annoying-nonetheless season right now), I’m hoping I can share what I’ve learned and point you in the right direction.
And honestly, it’s a lesson I need to retake at the moment as well.
1. Go back to the basics.
In its purest and simplest form, Christmas is about celebrating the advent of Christ. Advent literally means ‘coming.’ Christmas is about Christ coming – and all the hope and peace and joy His coming has brought. When we peel away all the layers of our lives and our hearts, that truly is what we need most. Festivities, decorations, gifts, family time – all wonderful. All blessings.
But what our hearts need most is Jesus. And His coming is truly the antidote for all the trouble we are in the middle of. And not just that He came (past tense), but that He comes – present tense – right to us in the middle of our mess.
2. Give yourself grace.
If you are in the middle of a hard time, go easy on yourself. You don’t have to go to every single party and event and fill your schedule up to the max. It might do you some good just to have quiet, reflective nights at home snuggled up with hot chocolate, Christmas music and a good Christmas flick.
If you need the help of your family to take some of the burden off of you, ask for it. Be honest with them. You don’t need to put on the perfect Hallmark Christmas event. Christmas is about celebrating Jesus and being with family. Don’t put unneeded burdens on yourself.
3. Only do what will bring you peace and joy this season.
After my first miscarriage, I just wanted a quiet, reflective December. I didn’t want to socialize a lot, I didn’t want to go to a lot of parties. I just wanted quiet and peace – so that’s what I did. After my 2nd miscarriage, it was just the opposite. I was tired of being sad. I just wanted to feel normal again. So, I made myself a Christmas Bucket List and did all the things that made me feel happy and joyful during Christmas. And it worked. You might fall at either end of the spectrum, but don’t be a slave to the expectations of others. Do what will fill your heart with peace and joy.
4. Find meaningful, simple activities to do with your family.
Christmas can put a lot of pressure on us in the way of gifts, activities, and events. While fun, it can be draining, and we can miss what is important. Meaningful Christmas activities don’t have to be burdensome or expensive. Drive around looking at Christmas lights, drinking hot cocoa. Bake Christmas cookies. Watch Christmas movies. Make Christmas ornaments. These are all simple things you can do that will bring your family closer together.
5. Look for someone else to help.
There’s nothing that helps bring you out of your own troubles more than being a help to someone else. There are so many ways to help others this season. Get a child a gift through Angel Tree. Participate in Operation Christmas Child. Bring cookies to a senior citizen’s home.
Local youth agencies and outreaches are always looking for volunteers this time of year. It can be as simple as sending Christmas cards to our military service members. No need to add extra pressure, but the heart of Christmas is about love and serving. It truly has a therapeutic effect on us when we reach out to help others, even in our own pain. That kind of sacrifice is the true spirit of Christmas, and God truly honors that.
My heart goes out to you if you are not feeling the Christmas spirit and are approaching December with a bit of dread. You are not alone. I’ve been there – and in some ways, I’m kind of still there. But we don’t have to be beaten down by our circumstances. Even in the most painful of times, there is always something to celebrate – namely, Jesus and all we have because of Him – and usually, many, many more blessings on top of that.
This doesn’t have to be a time when we just trudge through until the new year. He has this way of shining light in the darkness, bringing joy to our mourning, and giving beauty for ashes. Let’s believe Him to do something beautiful in our hearts during this dark time. Because that’s what He always does.