I love Christmas. It is my favorite holiday. From the ornaments we hang on our tree to the big family dinners, I am enthralled by it all. I've always loved the holidays but every year even in the midst of all the happiness I have a small piece of my heart that is blue.
I couldn't put my finger on it for years. I just had an unexplainable sadness mixed in with pure joy every holiday season. I have had a lot of emotions during the holidays and sometimes it has been hard to just enjoy them.
Perhaps you feel this way this time of year?
I can't figure out if it is the fact that I have lost some family members and the holidays are a little less bright without them.
Or maybe around the holidays, we spend so much time with family that it is hard to make the nearly four-hour drive back home knowing how special and fragile time spent with loved ones is.
Perhaps it is the pressure to do everything perfectly and make sure everything goes smoothly during the season?
Maybe I see my kids growing so fast before my eyes every Christmas season and it saddens me?
You may have similar reasons for your holiday blues and I hope you know you're not alone in your feelings. The holidays can bring a whole host of emotions for lots of people.
As I have shared this with those closest to me, they too have expressed that the holidays are hard for them emotionally. They love the season and all the fun it brings but there is also an undertone that brings sadness. It is almost like enjoying a great latte but still tasting a few bitter undertones.
When these feelings arise every November and December I focus on five things to help combat the blues and hopefully these will help you too!
1. Focus on the true meaning of the season; Jesus Christ
I keep my heart focused on the baby named Jesus who was born in a manger to one day die and save us from our sins. He is the reason we celebrate the season and that is why we have true hope even when sadness comes. Spending time with Jesus each day keeps our hearts centered on Him and all He has done for us. Don't neglect time to meditate on His word this holiday season as it keeps our spirit in tune with Him and His love and grace.
2. Stay organized
This year I have started Christmas shopping early so I can fully enjoy the month of December without stressing about forgetting a last-minute gift. My husband and I sat down and created a spreadsheet with all of our family members' names and what they were getting. Then we checked people off as we found things and have a goal to finish shopping by December 5th. We don't go overboard on gifts as it is just not our style. You don't have to go into debt at Christmastime either just because everyone else is doing it. Take the pressure off of yourself and do what you can. Set your Christmas gift budget and keep a list of what you've purchased so you can finish your list early and minimize any last-minute spending and stress.
3. Take time to enjoy the season
Typically we all run around frantically going from gathering to gathering and don't stop long enough to actually enjoy the season. Limit your commitments and take time to enjoy the Christmas season with your loved ones. Pause the gift wrapping, meal prepping, and decorating to bask in the peaceful season. So often we spend the season rushing around from activity to activity and never once stop to actually enjoy the family meal, gift opening, church functions, or fleeting moments by the fire.
4. Lower Your Expectations
Don't spend the season expecting everything to go perfectly. Ornaments will break, meals will get burnt, and you might have a few tiffs with your family members. It happens and it is OKAY if your Christmas tree isn't magazine-worthy and if your rolls are a little burnt. Or if your presents aren't color-coordinated and the gathering schedule gets out of whack. Don't lose your sanity over the little things that in the big picture don't matter. If you have young kiddos as I do, then you already have experience in lowering your expectations for car rides and gatherings. They will get tired and grumpy just like adults do and will have meltdowns.
5. Make Giving A Priority
I believe as a Christian that we should give to those in need year-round but especially during the holidays. There are many churches that sponsor families in the community for Christmas or they do the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes which my kids enjoy doing with me. There are many families who are in need in our community that we can help. Do a quick Google search or ask your church leaders of any needs in the community and make giving a priority.
These are five easy ways to stay sane this holiday season and I hope they encouraged you, friend!