When The Holidays Are Not Merry Or Bright

“Joy to the World!”
“Let your hearts be light!”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

 All these are lyrics to some of my favorite Christmas songs…but this year, they just aren’t having the same impact on me. Christmas truly is my all-time favorite season, I love everything about it. The decorations, the wrapping of Christmas presents, the GIVING of presents, being together with family and friends…it all has it’s place in this season of joy. 

But, this year…this year has been a bit different for me. It’s been a long, hard year filled with difficult moments that seemed bound and determined to break me. Moments that shook me to my deepest core and moments that tested my faith. Those moments seemed to last for an eternity and the recovery is taking it’s toll on my feelings of happiness and goodwill. 

Almost every person I’ve talked to recently has shared how this year has been so difficult for them as well. We are all walking through various seasons in our separate lives…but we are unified by the struggles. We are all facing our own struggles, some, more evident than others. For some, it is not the most wonderful time of the year. This time of year only emphasizes the pain and loss they’ve experienced this past year. For me, we have just suffered the loss of my grandfather. And I know my story is not unique, we have all lost something or someone. The nostalgia of Christmas weaves them into traditions and memories. 

We are all facing our own struggles, some, more evident than others.

I remember going to my grandparents house for Christmas as a child, and they always had candy canes hanging on the branches. After all the gifts were handed out, before we left their house, each child picked out their candy cane for the ride home. I loved that tradition and it was sad to have that come to an end. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love Christmas, and I know the days will be merry and bright once more…but right now, they aren’t…and that’s ok. 

Your heart may be heavy today, you may be grieving. You may not be in the Christmas spirit. You may be in a season of depression, pain, or chaos. 

But you are not alone. 

And this season will not last forever. 

I think there’s a difference between sitting in your feelings, and being stuck in your feelings.

So, what do you do when the holidays aren’t merry or bright? For each person, that decision is different. For me, I’m choosing to surround myself, as much as possible, with friends and family. Whether it’s by getting together physically or virtually, (thank you video calls) or by hosting a game night, or attending a Christmas service, this year, I’m allowing myself to feel all the things. I’m choosing to give myself permission to not be jolly, but also NOT allowing myself to wallow in the pain. I think there’s a difference between sitting in your feelings, and being stuck in your feelings. And this Christmas season, I’m giving myself the gift of grace. Realizing that I can still have joy even when happiness is absent. I can still have peace when chaos churns around me. 

My wish for you this holiday season is that you would find one small joy, like a small candle flame, a tiny flicker of hope. Hold onto that, protect it from the winds of turmoil. Breathe life into that fire, allow it to grow into a blaze.  That one small joy can ignite a joyFULLness inside that will carry you through into the new year. And regardless of what that joy may look like, whether it’s the fact that you set up a Christmas tree, or that you wrapped one present, or cleaned one room, or got out of bed, find your piece of joy…and hold on.


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