If you are familiar with Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” and have ever bolted it out while driving down the highway on Christmas Eve with all the windows down so the icy wind would dry your eyes and remove the red from your face to avoid letting your family see you’re slowly dying inside....then you know exactly how much Christmas can hurt for some people.
Sometimes its loneliness.
Sometimes its depression.
Sometimes it fear of the future.
Sometimes it’s a recent divorce.
Sometimes its financial hardship looming over you.
Sometimes it’s a breakup.
Sometimes it’s a recent death or loss.
And sometimes it’s a toxic family you wish you didn’t have to see.
Whatever the reason sometimes the Holidays become so stressful that people cannot deal. Did you know that the holidays are not only the happiest time of the year but also the time of the year when suicide rates soar. That is so very sad🙁
If you have found your way to this post and you are desperately clinging to the end of you rope this season, I am BEGGING you to hold on because the truth is: this month is just a month and its no more or less special than any other month. Your life is too precious to lose over some over romanticized and commercialized season.....please keep reading.
Yes, Christmas in itself IS special.
It’s the celebration of when our Lord and Savior began his journey on Earth as a baby. And if we all stopped there and made it about Him then none of us would ever feel lonely this time of year but we don’t. Instead we make it about flashy gifts, lights, dreams come true, Santa, gushy love romances, surprise proposals, carriage rides and more food than is truly needed. And guess what? If your life doesn’t fit into that glorious over production of Christmas then suddenly you feel like a failure, an outcast and an utter disappointment and Christmas becomes too heavy to even attempt to get through. It breaks my heart to know that someone out there this season will end their life over the dread of showing up to Christmas as “less than”.
Listen to me. You are NEVER less than. NEVER.
That is a lie society has fed into you throughout the years....you are simply in a difficult season or transition, the situation is “less than ideal” but YOU never are. Know that right now my friend, you are always enough and never less than.
I know, I have been there. Oh, have I ever been there. I have had my share of Christmases where I counted down the hours each and every 20 minutes, dying inside until they were finally over and I could go back to work and snuggle up alone with my dogs. Yes, I get it. But here was the one thought that kept me going in those "Hard Candy Christmases":
“Christmas Day is just a day. It has 24 hours and then it will end. December is only a month. It has 30 days and then it will end.”
And that is the real and honest truth. When it all boils down, and you see Christmas for what it is, its really only a day.
When I began to see it that way, when I stripped away all the over production that the retail world has placed on this season, I felt my broken heart ease a little. Why? Because the pressure to measure up was lessened. I realized that Christmas will come and then it will go regardless of my current Life because it was only a day. Just like any other arbitrary day, Jan.4th, March 12th, May 20Th, etc....its just a day, no more than that.
So I had a choice to make. How was I going to spend that 24 hours? Wallowing in all the pain I would STILL have the 24 hours before and following Christmas or would I choose to find the joys in that Christmas Day window that I could only find on that day. Joys like time with my grandparents who I would lose in time, time with my parents who I will one day lose, the joy and laughter of my nieces and nephews while they were still children, time with my siblings that I rarely see throughout the year and GUILTLESS ( yes, hold no guilt there please) trips to the food line.
It was not easy, it took a lot of self-talk, a lot of crying on the drive there and deep breaths sometimes but I forced myself to choose the joys offered in that Christmas Day 24 hour window....and looking back I am so glad I did. Instead of having memories where I cried in a corner, sulked or chose to stay home buried under the covers I have memories of holding my nieces and nephews as babies, hearing my grandparents’ voices and the way they smelled as I hugged them for a last time I didn’t know would be a last time and so many selfies with my Mom and Dad that I get to look back over through the years. I have memories made with my siblings that now are not available due to relationship changes and I so many memories of love that did a little bit of healing in me as I opened my heart to it. What a tremendous regret I would have now if all those years I had not chosen joy. And just as I predicted, my sorrows, my depression and my anxieties were always waiting at home when I returned...because Christmas is simply another day. Do not forget that, it's just a 24 hour window in your Life. I made it through the holidays with joy when I could have chosen grief and you can too, regardless of the grief facing you, you can choose joy.
And that is what I hope you’ll do, no matter what you are facing, because some pain is seasonal and some is so heavy that its there for Life but please don’t let even that steal the 24 hours of joy Christmas is offering to you. Life is a rough ride, filled with ups and downs and some of us endures more downs than ups but I guarantee you that if you look for happiness opportunities that Christmas offers you’ll coast upwards this holiday even if for a few hours. Sometimes it's that temporary break from grief that gives our heart time to recuperate and our mind time to refocus, and you need that; because grief is a poison that infects and destroys if you let it grow too long. Give yourself the healing you need and choose to find the joys offered this Christmas.
What if you have no family to find to joy with? Give joy and it will offer itself back to you. There are plenty of homeless shelters, retirement homes and nursery homes looking for someone to bring joy. Make Christmas the time you take happiness to someone who lives continually in grief.
God Himself told us that was the way to ultimately choose joy:
Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the LORD Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
Give some joy this holiday season and you’ll find it bounces back to you in exponential return.
No matter the reason why you are dreading this holiday season, I am here to tell you that you will make it. It's not as big of an experience as the marketing world has made it out to be....it's simply another 24 hours.
And you can do it, if you choose joy.
Merry Christmas to you My Friend, you deserve one. Share this on your social media feed so that someone struggling will find hope this season.