The topic of painful holidays, with Pain at Christmas, really touched a nerve with our readers/listeners! Therefore, here comes Part 2.

I wish you could see some of our reader’s responses. A number of them did not want to comment publicly, and I can understand. Some of their personal messages express such heartache!

Here are some of the situations mentioned:

  • An eight-year old child spending her first Christmas at her Dad’s, hundreds of miles away from Mom, because of a divorce
  • Missing Mom at Christmas. “She’s celebrating at Jesus’ table instead.”
  • Not knowing where an estranged young-adult child is this Christmas, or being able to contact him
  • Wrestling with four different “families” all pulling to have her present at “their” celebration
  • Christmas meant more alcoholic rages than ever
  • Facing decisions about cancer treatment for a child, with no time or energy for anything about Christmas
  • Being dismissed from a long-time job just days before Christmas
  • Spending the day alone, because all the children are gone doing their own thing

One friend writes, “I can’t wait for New Year’s. Then the holiday season will be over! I dread this time of year.”

Something about Christmas makes hard things especially painful. In part that’s because we have such high expectations. We see the pictures of happy families, hear the beautiful music, and think somehow something’s wrong with us if we don’t feel the same way. We’re “supposed” to be joyful, we think. And when it hurts, we feel like something’s wrong.

There’s no magic wand to make those painful things go away, even for one day. But there are a few things that can help.

  1. Enjoy the small things. Find something you CAN enjoy: a Christmas carol, a holiday movie, a church service, some holiday decorations. Taking the season as a whole may be too much: take small bites of some part of Christmas that does “taste good,” and savor it.
  2. Be unselfish. Nothing helps keep our own pain in perspective better than reaching out to help others who have even bigger problems. Visit a children’s hospital, help at a soup kitchen, volunteer to help at your church’s Christmas service. Giving takes your eyes off yourself, and that’s a good thing.
  3. Remember the Reason. Christmas was never about superficial, hollow, commercial celebrations anyway. It’s about remembering the birth of Jesus! Invite Him to be born in YOUR heart anew. Make a place for Him. He will be present with you.

No, those steps can’t magically remove the pain at Christmas. But they may help bring more meaning to the season than you ever thought you could expect.

And I say to each of you, Merry Christmas!

Your turn: How are you handling the tougher parts of the Christmas season? What advice would you give someone who is feeling the Christmas blues? I’d love to hear from you!

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