Some of my past holiday experiences have included driving through snow storms, taking groups to sing Christmas Carols, driving the sound truck for my daughter’s majorette team in several Christmas parades, and one year I dressed up like Santa while driving my little Red VW “Bug” car…I told people that my sled was in the shop for repairs. When I was 13 years old, I was a shepherd in a live nativity scene and got attacked by the goats who were strangely attracted to the Hi Karate brand cologne I was wearing, (The sheep were unavailable that night).The Christmas I got a bike was special too, I was so excited that I rode it through the house and hit the table where my brother’s new train set was located…there was a major train wreck and as a result… me and my new bike went into “Time Out” mode for a while.The holidays can be the season to be stressful..with so many things to do and people to see and other obligations. Unrealistic expectations have become the ideal, and that makes it difficult to accept the reality of our actual experience which doesn’t always measure up to that of a Hallmark TV Christmas movie where everything is perfect.
For some who have experienced a loss recently or at this time of the year in the past, Christmas and the holidays can be a stinging reminder of who is not there. The emotions of grief, hurt, loneliness can be overwhelming. Instead of a season of joy, it can be a very difficult time emotionally.
It is okay to recognize these feelings, and to be proactive and to find your personal path to navigate through this crazy time of the year. You don’t need to let this be a time to withdraw completely from normal activities, but instead plan ahead and choose things that you can do within your limitations. Be flexible about your expectations when considering holiday get-togethers, and other activities. Don’t be afraid to change your schedule, surroundings, traditions to decrease your stress. If you, or someone you know that that this Christmas is difficult because of grief, please check out the practical ideas and helpful guidance at http://www.griefshare.org/holidays.
The Holidays aren’t always “Happy” or perfect but they can be “Joyful” and there is a big difference. Happiness depends on happy experiences. Those experiences, though great, don’t always last long, but joy does….True joy comes from personally knowing God really loves you and is with you. That’s what the real message of Christmas is all about. Immanuel, one of the names of Jesus literally means… God is with us. He is working in our life regardless of our circumstances. Don’t be upside down during this holiday season… Let the Christ of Christmas be the focus of your joy for the holidays.