Well it’s official! We’ve entered the holiday season! “They’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
Or is it?
For some of us this holiday season is filled with laughter and cheer. There are special routines that don’t happen at any other time of the year. There are delicious treats and gatherings with loved ones. Oh, don’t forget the presents, the memories, and the decorations! What holiday home would be complete without a Christmas tree and mistletoe?
Unfortunately, not everyone is filled with merry thoughts at the idea of gathering around the table for the holidays. For some of us, holidays are a reminder of loss. A lost loved one, a lost childhood, a lost job, lost health, a lost relationship… The list could truly keep going. You may be in this group, but if you’re not I can guarantee you that you know someone who is struggling today and will keep struggling this whole month simply because it isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for them.
It’s easy to say to those people, “Cheer up!” It’s easy to remind them that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Sometimes we think that ought to be enough. If those of us who struggled could just meditate on what Jesus’ birth really meant then they would surely get over their past and move on. I’ve heard people say these things, and truthfully, I might be convicted of believing them myself at one time, but this holiday season I want to shout from the rooftops that believing in Jesus Christ and loving Him doesn’t take away our pain.
Whether you’re filled with joy or despair today, the recipe for surviving this holiday season is the same.
Holiday Cheer Recipe
How to build your cheer:
Start with a little truth and whisk in some friendship. It’s ok to say where you’re at. If you love the holidays, shout it loud and clear without feeling guilty. Don’t keep your joy to yourself because you know someone else is sad. Joy is contagious, that sad person might just catch it from you. If you’re struggling this holiday, it’s ok to say that too. It’s ok to grieve over the things you’ve lost. Did you know that grief when it’s shared can dissipate? It’s true! In fact, Galatian 6:2 tells us that we fulfill the law of Christ when we carry one’ another’s burdens.
Next fold in a little tradition. This step could be tricky. If your traditions are working for you, then keep doing them! If, however, you find that traditions are keeping you from truly celebrating the birth of our savior, make a new one! The problem isn’t with traditions themselves. Sometimes we associate those traditions with our losses. In that case, creating a new tradition with a new association may just help pull you through this holiday season.
Finally, wrap your mixture with the love of Jesus Christ. There really is nothing to celebrate without the love of Jesus Christ. Here’s a few tips for how to put your love for Christ into practice, and carry someone’s burdens in a very practical way:
- Consider inviting someone new to join in on your holiday tradition.
- Offer a smile to those retail workers while you’re out shopping.
- Serve someone! The holidays are filled with opportunities to serve others.
Jesus told us in John 13:34 that we were to love one another as He has loved us. Jesus left his clean, magnificent home in heaven to come to the filth of a manager. He endured the pain and the tragedies of this life and walked as a man who owned nothing. Extending an invitation to a person whose struggling could put a damper on your holiday festivities, or it could be the most authentic moment of spreading joy and good cheer that you’ve ever experienced!
I hope this month is filled with laughter and joy for you! I know that won’t be the case in every moment, but I hope there will be at least a few moments where you can gather around the table and experience being in the presence of ones you love and whom love you.
If by chance you find yourself completely alone this holiday season, sitting at an empty table, let me pray that you will be the most blessed of us all as you sit in the presence of God almighty!
Oh Father God,
I know that this next month will be hard for many around me. I know that the pain of this season can be overwhelming. Father God our pain is not lost to you. You have experienced every tragedy in our lives. Would you please grant to each of us the blessing of enjoying you and fellowshipping with you. No matter what our circumstances this season, may you equip us with hearts that worship in your presence. Father fill us with joy. Open our eyes to the ones around us that you need us to love. Help us to be brave as we reach out to them! In all things God, may we give you the glory! Amen.
Here’s a Christmas song that might be new to you. My children and I sang this song together in a church Christmas program a few years ago and now it’s one of my favorites! Would you lift up your voice and sing out his praise with me? It’s Christmas time!!