Surviving the Holidays
The holidays are supposed to be joyful and fun-filled. Sometimes they are, but often that is not our experience. The holidays can be especially painful for you if you are depressed, are mourning a loved one, or have recently lost your job. Note: If you are currently in an abusive relationship, check out this blog. You are surrounded by images of happy people sitting by cozy fires opening gifts together, or gathered around a table laden with wonderful food. You may have parties to attend where everyone is smiling and laughing. Because of your current pain, you don’t feel like smiling or laughing.
If you have recently had a tragic loss, you might decide NOT to celebrate the holidays at all this year. Give yourself some grace, and do what is best for you.
Even for those of us who have not had a recent tragedy, the holidays may be difficult to bear. Suddenly, your normally long to-do list becomes overwhelming. You may feel that you MUST:
- Decorate your house.
- Write and send Christmas cards to people you haven’t seen in years.
- Buy presents for your family and a long list of friends.
- Bake cookies and pies, and cook an elaborate Christmas meal.
- Go to parties, or host parties at your house.
- Open your home to family members, or travel to see family (some of whom you intensely dislike).
Who wouldn’t be anxious? Christmas is meant to be a time we enjoy. How can we get back to that goal?
Limit Your MUST DOs
Does reading the long list of MUST DOs leave you feeling drained? I recommend you think long and hard about what is truly necessary. I will give you some examples.
- I have eight boxes of Christmas decorations. My kids used to love a house filled with lights and decorations. Now, all my kids are grown, and I won’t get to see them this year. I have decided to only put up my Christmas tree for my grandkids and leave the rest of the decorations in the basement.
- For years I sent hand-written Christmas cards to over 100 people. This year, I am taking off my list anyone who did not reciprocate last year. In addition, I will send my cards by email. What a time and money saver!
- Thank God for the internet! Instead of fighting crowds at the mall, I can sit on my couch with a cup of tea by my side while I choose gifts for my friends and family. This year, the only shopping I did in person was at my church’s craft sale. The gifts were created by women from all over the world, who needed the income. Many of them had been sex-trafficked, or were in danger of becoming trafficked. Creating these items gives them income while encouraging their self-esteem. Now that is a shopping trip I don’t mind taking!
- I used to make five types of cookies for my kids. Now, I do notwant all those calories, not to mention I have no time to spend baking. I won’t make any this year.
- In the past, I went to every holiday party I was invited to. This year, I will only go to those I really want
- We often feel we MUST have family members stay with us over the holidays. Is it possible that your parents, siblings or adult kids could stay in a hotel nearby instead? If you cannot tolerate Uncle Bob, you don’t need to host him in your home. And, if the idea of returning to your parent’s home for the holidays makes you hyperventilate, you can decide not to go this year.
In past years, we have had our adult kids and their kids staying with us. It is a blessing, yes, but can also add to the stress to the holidays. Our adult kids stay up way too late, laughing and talking loudly. It makes my husband (an early riser) very cranky, which makes me cranky. The last time they were here, I set a timer, and said, “When this goes off, please move to your bedrooms.” It worked! They actually went to bed when the timer went off!
Making dinners for 20 people is a challenge. Last year, we assigned one dinner to each of our adult kids for the time they would be with us. They gave us a list of ingredients, we bought them, and they cooked and cleaned that night. What a relief! Except for Christmas dinner, we decided to use paper plates for the time they were with us, rather than running the dishwasher three times a day!
These are just a few examples of ways you can make your holiday season less stressful.
DO the Things That Bring You Joy
Another idea is to actually do things that bring you joy. For example, do you love wrapping presents while sitting by a roaring fire? Do you have a favorite Christmas movie you love to watch year after year? Does going to a midnight candlelight church service bring back happy memories of your childhood? Perhaps you could carve out 30 minutes each morning to spend quiet time with the Lord. Make the time for things you truly enjoy and refuse to do the things that you don’t.
Romans 15:13 says:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Bless you all.