Not everybody has perfect holidays
The economy is tough right now and many people are out of work, so they can barely pay there bills. There just isn’t money for presents.
Some people are ill or have a loved one in the hospital. Some people are alcoholic, addicted, mentally ill or clinically depressed, and the holidays just are not HAPPY.
Some people have a spouse who is committing adultery or who had an affair, and this year they are with the other person having the time of their lives, while the faithful spouse is home alone and left trying to explain to kids why “mommy” or “daddy” isn’t with them for Christmas.
Coping with “less than perfect” holidays starts with going easy on yourself. Here are some ideas to accept:
- It’s okay if the holidays can’t be what they once were. Just because you once had thousands of dollars to spend on presents doesn’t mean you do this year…and if you did it last year it doesn’t mean you have to do it this year. Let the past BE in the past, and do what you can do this year.
- There is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays. You don’t have to get brand new electronics for Christmas, or spends thousands of dollars on decorating and the electric bill for lighting the whole house in Christmas lights. Ask yourself what you want and ask your children what they want. It is perfect acceptable to celebrate Christmas by spending the day in your pajamas, watching all 3 Lord of the Rings movies, and ordering a pizza if that is what would be celebrating to you. Sometimes you feel like it’s expected of you…and other people don’t expect it at all!
- Taking care of yourself must be a priority. Yes I know the Holidays are a season of giving and thinking of others, but it is okay, during this season, to also take care of yourself . I don’t mean you should be selfish or self-centered but it is reasonable, especially if you are going through financial worries, illness, or marital difficulties to take some time to care for you.
Here are some coping techniques:
- Don’t lose your faith. Many people become angry with God when they lose their job, encounter a chronic illness, or lose their spouse. “Where was HE?!!” they wonder. “Why didn’t He stop this?” During this time of trial, it can feel very painful and even lonely, but feelings do not determine the truth; GOD determines the truth. He has made promises to us:
- that He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 3:16),
- that He has plans for good and not for harm for our future (Jeremiah 29:11),
- that He will give us rest if we are weary and our burden is heavy (Matt. 11:28 and 29),
- that He will give power to the weak (Isaiah 40:29-31)
- that He will supply all our needs (Phil 4:19),
- that NOTHING will separate us from Him (Romans 8:37-39).
- Give yourself permission to “not be perfect”. So often we hold ourselves to just IMPOSSIBLE standards. If you can not decorate a tree–see if the kids want to do it, or enjoy the tree at the courthouse this year. Make some adjustments in what you can do, and do the things you can do with joy. If it’s not perfect….well oh well! Big deal.
- Make new traditions. Your old traditions about sharing a big family dinner together may not work anymore, and since there is no “right” and “wrong” way to celebrate the holidays, make NEW traditions that fit with the circumstances you’re in right now. If you don’t have the finances–go to a meal at your church and enjoy the company of your church family. If you are ill–go out to Christmas dinner and enjoy not having to do the dishes! If your family is torn in two by an affair or the kids are grown up and out of the house–have a potluck meal and invite those who don’t HAVE a family to share the day with you.
- Volunteer. So often we think of “what we don’t have anymore” and get depressed that we don’t have the money or don’t have the health or don’t have the family…and we forget what we DO have. To break out of that cycle, instead of staying home and thinking of what you’ve lost, go to a nursing home and volunteer time with someone who would love to talk to you. Volunteer to be Santa and pass out candy canes at your child’s school. Go to the homeless shelter and share coffee and a meal with someone who has no home in the winter. Go to your local animal shelter and care for an innocent, faithful, loving animal. Trust me, suddenly your life won’t seem quite so bad and you’ll remember what you DO have.