There is a heightened sensitivity among most people during the holiday season. Several times over the past two weeks I’ve heard comments like “there seems to be so many breakups over the holidays” or “there’s always a lot of tragedy during the holidays.” The truth of the matter is that there are probably no greater losses or tragedies during the holidays than any other time of the year. Tragedy, loss, breakups, family disputes, illness, financial struggles, strained relationships, and the like are all examples of loss and there is no “good” time for those things to occur.
The holidays often serve as markers for remembering past experiences that brought us pain. Each time we approach that marker we immediately associate it with the pain or misfortune of the past. We also have a memory of a fantastic holiday that we endeavor to duplicate to no avail. As the spirit of the holiday arises, many of us find ourselves getting the “holiday blues.”
How to kick the holiday blues
1. Remove the holiday as a marker for the past. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that “we have to interpret and give meaning to things in order to live and think.” We must reinterpret the holiday with a focus on what the holiday is really about. A correct interpretation of Christmas is as a marker for the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world! With this interpretation, we ought to find joy, peace, happiness, and love that is for us to share with others.
2. Set realistic expectations. We can place much unnecessary anxiety on ourselves by expecting everything to be perfect. In our efforts to create that perfection we become worn out, disgruntled and stressed. Keep priorities in focus, be yourself, and for goodness sakes, don’t overspend! (caveat: teach your children restraint and the true meaning of giving).
3. Delegate to others. For all you go getters that try to do it all yourself, delegate, delegate, delegate! You are not superhuman so stop trying to be. You don’t have to do all the shopping or cooking.
4. Volunteer. One of the greatest ways to beat the blues is to get our focus off of ourselves. Volunteer to help others. Serve at a food pantry, homeless shelter, church, or bake for the neighbor. Do something to serve someone who perhaps isn’t able. Look around, the need is there.
5. Give yourself a break. Make sure you plug some “me-time” into your schedule. Spend some time off during the holidays catching up on some reading, exercising, or just sit around with a cup of hot chocolate in the peace and quite.
I pray that you will keep REACHING FORWARD for joy and peace this Christmas season. Jesus is the reason for the season. Let’s join together in celebrating the birth of our Savior in fellowship with one another. Let’s choose joy! Let’s choose fun! Let’s choose to love!