For you, this may be the most joyous and fun nine days of the year. Give God the glory for your blessings. But for many, these days are a struggle.
I’m talking about Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day.
For many of us these are the nine longest days of the year. For those:
- from dysfunctional families where the holidays were painful times of chaos
- whose marriages have crumbled and the holidays have not been full of joy
- who are approaching their first holiday season as a non-drinker, a non-smoker, or without whatever drug they were addicted to in past years
- working on their freedom from sexual addiction facing their family of origin who may be the source of much pain that they have been medicating with sex or drugs
- whose spouse died this year and are facing their first Christmas season alone
- divorced and facing their first Christmas alone, or yet another Christmas alone
- who have had a child die during the past year, or during the Christmas season
- who are estranged from their children
Our Christmas does not match up well with all the advertising. It is something we wish we could experience, or we have experienced, and have now lost. We get the postcards of the happy families around the huge Christmas tree all beautifully dressed and smiling. Frankly, it hurts. Why can’t that me? Will that ever be me again?
This may be your reality and I am so sorry. I understand your pain. I still find this to be a very long nine days. You see, I have it in my head that we are expected to be happy and festive for nine days without ceasing. Who can do that anyway? My ancestors are from Northern Ireland where it is always raining and 50 degrees. Naturally, I’m melancholy. The other part of me is Bohemian which is also melancholy. Nine days of exuberance may just not be natural for me. Maybe my ancestors just stayed drunk the whole time, I don’t know. I, however, have given up drinking through the grace of God.
But aside from that, I have had to deal with Family of Origin issues. My father, the Irishman, did like to drink too much which caused problems. As an adult I did not fly home for Christmas many times because I didn’t want to get wrapped up in all the issues of my family.
One year I came home from college only to find out my father was in the local hospital after having had a heart attack. My Christmas vacation was spent visiting my dad in Intensive Care. I remember watching nervously as his heart monitor would vary erratically with each sweep. My own heart would leap with panic, and I would make every effort to not gasp each time!
If you are one of the many for whom these days are hard, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many like you and me. There are so many broken homes today that this number is surely going up, and will be going up in the future.
In order to enjoy the season, have a plan to get involved in the holiday activities like the many concerts and dramas that are being presented. I encourage you to reach out to others during this time, especially those who you know are also alone. Get together with them to celebrate.
Get out with people and don’t isolate yourself. Isolation makes it worse. You can’t help but feel the buzz even going to coffee shops by yourself. It is infectious and it raises the spirits. Even though you are not at a place of the cliche ideal Christmas, you can still make it a pleasant time. Have a spirit of gratitude for all the good things that the Lord has provided for your life.
Do some volunteer work during the holidays. Help at a soup kitchen, visit people at nursing homes and assisted living. Volunteer to read to people. Christmas is about God giving us His only Son to come down to earth and be one of us and then to die for our sins. Follow this example and give to others. This is a sure-fire spirit-lifter. Focus on Emmanuel, God with us.
I pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas season and all the best to you in the New Year.
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