Holidays are supposed to be “happy and bright,” right? But every year I hear from people for whom the holiday season is anything but that. This year, 2020, there are even more reasons to feel blue; a COVID-19 pandemic, a contentious political season, economic uncertainty. And you could add to that list for yourself. But it’s possible to stay resilient even during a blue holiday season.
The holiday season is what you make it. You have a choice. You can let the shortened daylight, memories of Christmases past, financial pressures, and changed plans get you down. And you could count yourself among the 45% of adults who say they dread the holiday season. (And who knows; that number could be even higher this year.)
Or you can decide that Christmas is worth celebrating. Perhaps we need this celebration more this year than ever. With all the bad news, all the stress, all the disruption, we need some good news. And no better news has ever been had than “Unto you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.” (See Luke 2:11)
I do not minimize the stress. You may not be able to gather with all the people you love as you wish this year. The problems in the world may be weighing on you heavily. The enjoyable events that have been part of your Christmases in the past may not happen this year.
But the Baby has still come to Earth. And that miracle Baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.
So, right in the middle of what may feel like a blue holiday season, here are some ways to make things bright where you are.
Choose Your Focus
Be a thermostat, not a thermometer. Decide that you will determine the emotional climate in which you live rather than allowing your mind to be taken in any direction the circumstances would push you. You can choose a positive focus regardless of the problems in your life and in our world.
During this stressful year some people have been able to thrive even while others have been torn apart. In the middle of very turbulent times, those who are resilient are the ones who ask something like, “What does this make possible?” They acknowledge the problems, but focus on the possibilities.
Perhaps your past Christmases have been overwhelmed with busyness and stress, saying Yes to more than you could reasonably enjoy. This year can be an opportunity to choose more intentionally how you will celebrate. You can choose to invest more time in intimately celebrating the birth of Jesus – with Him, and perhaps with a few very close family members. You can take more time to do the things that truly matter.
Receive the Gifts
Regardless of your circumstances, you can look for and appreciate the gifts. Some may be gifts you give yourself, such as a walk in the snow or fall leaves, a candle lit in the evening, or your favorite holiday music. Do the things that nourish you.
And there are gifts you can receive from others. Take care to notice someone who says Merry Christmas. Smile back at someone who offers you a smile. Tell a neighbor how much you enjoy their holiday lights. If you have a family member or friend who offers a gift, even if it’s just a moment of listening, receive it gratefully.
We just passed Thanksgiving here in the United States. That shouldn’t be only a day; it should be a lifestyle. And it certainly should last through the rest of the holiday season!
Lift your eyes off yourself and make someone else’s Christmas bright. There’s little that will lift your own spirits more than helping someone else.
There are countless opportunities to help others during the Christmas season. Volunteer somewhere. That may look a little different this year, but organizations still need support and help. Get involved where you can. Give a gift to someone anonymously.
If you live with family members, think about what you can do to make their Christmas bright. If you have children, pause to enjoy the season through their eyes, and make it special for them. And if you live alone, don’t isolate; invest real time and energy in giving of yourself. Christmas is about giving!
Remember the Reason
Christmas is about the birth of a Baby. Jesus entered our world as Emmanuel – God With Us. He stepped right into the middle of evil as a helpless infant.
The first Christmas was God’s opinion that our world should go on. We may be in the middle of a mess. Evil and pain and darkness are everywhere. But this is the middle act in the play; it’s not the end. Jesus’ entrance into our world on the first Christmas was the assurance that God’s kingdom will triumph in the end.
This Christmas, invite Him to be born in you anew. Allow the message of God With Us to be God’s opinion that your world should go on too. For all the struggle, His birth in you makes the future both possible and meaningful.
Intentionally make room for Him this holiday season. Consider an Advent calendar or Bible reading plan. Don’t let the season pass without remembering why Christmas exists in the first place.
Remember what Christmas Points To
This is not as good as it gets!
Even the very best Christmas, a Christmas that would include everything you could possibly hope for with closeness with family and friends, great food, lights and music and snow and a lovely fire in the fireplace – a Hallmark kind of Christmas – even that wouldn’t be nearly enough. And it wouldn’t be what the deepest places in your soul truly long for.
Only what Christmas points to can do that.
A Baby is a promise, not the fulfillment. Or more accurately, a Baby is the beginning of the fulfillment of a promise, but not the end. And for us, only when that Baby returns as King to make all things new will things be as good as they can get.
So this Christmas, celebrate the Promise, the entry into our world of the Baby – a miracle beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
And at the same time, let this season remind you that it’s not over yet. Lift your eyes. Look up! Your redemption draws near! (See Luke 21:28)
O Come, let us adore Him!
And, Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
Your Turn: What will you do to turn a blue holiday season into one that is bright? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- There are plenty of reasons to feel blue this holiday season. But there are even better reasons – and ways – to be resilient. Make things bright where you are! Tweet that.
P.S. Yes, I know Jesus was not born on December 25. But His birth is worth celebrating!
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