When Christmas Isn't Merry And Bright
By RachelRowell on December 13, 2013
So maybe you aren't one of the many posting overly cheery pictures of gingerbread houses, decorated trees and all of your holiday cheer on your Facebook feed. Maybe you are more like a friend of mine who rolls her eyes into the back of her head and sighs when the stores start playing Christmas songs weeks before Thanksgiving, and literally gets ill as soon as the weather is too cold to wear flip-flops.
If that sounds familiar to you, then I have to be honest and admit that I probably wouldn't be your person of choice to hang out with from the months of oh, October-January or so.
Growing up, my family always made a big deal out of Christmas. For some reason it was the one time of year when everyone seemed so much happier than usual. And so even as an adult, I adore the Holiday season and am probably almost as obnoxious when it comes to Christmas as one of those human elves dressed in green tights dancing around at the mall attempting to entice each passer-by to come into their store and buy their stuff!
I'll have to be honest, this is the first year that I have genuinely grappled with the fact that the Holidays aren't the most wonderful time of year for everyone.
I think maturity causes us to begin to see the world through the eyes of more than only our own.
And while there are those who view life-lessons as something that seems to make life bleaker, I'd like to believe it makes us better. Our lives are always richer and fuller when we have the ability to empathize and have compassion on the world around us.
Even when we can't always relate, we truly begin to live when we allow our heart to feel the pain of those with a different plight than that of our own.
Like the newly single mom who spends her first Christmas alone and barely making it.
Or the man for whom the holidays only serve to remind him of all that his life isn't, that he had once dreamed it would be.
For the couple who's marriage is in shambles.
And the one who is filled with sadness because this Christmas, they will choose between gifts for their kids or paying the light bill.
For the children who know they won't spend a happy holiday in the embrace of a family who loves them.
For the one for whom Christmas is a painful yearly reminder of the absence of that person who had once been so dear to their life.
Christmas comes for everyone, but it isn't always filled with all things merry and bright.
I tried to imagine what I would do if I struggled with the holidays as so many do and came up with a little list:
- Find an organization to do volunteer work alongside.
I happen to know first hand that nothing, and I do mean nothing will help you forget all that your life lacks like taking the focus off of your own self for a while and serving someone else.
- Salvation Army soup kitchen
- Local church ministry/outreaches
- Keep a gratitude journal.
Even when life is at it's worst, if you're heart is still beating, you have at least more than a handful of reasons to be grateful. No life is void of good. And there is something extra powerful about physically listing out the good things in your life. It's almost as if naming blessings, causes them to grow larger.
- Steer clear of FB and other social media outlets.
If you know you are prone to being down this time of year, the overload of happy families and perfect Christmas scenes that flood social media around the holidays probably isn't going to make it any easier. In fact, it will almost assuredly make it worst. So maybe consider taking a social media fast during the months you know you tend to struggle so that you don't end up resenting the happiness of others.
- Don't seclude yourself
Even though this may be your first choice, I can't think of anything more dangerous than being alone when you are already struggling. You will want to, but resist.
- Find another family or group of friends that you already know love you to "adopt yourself into".
I know that not everyone spends the holidays surrounding by adoring friends and family. If this is you, don't settle for what you don't have - adopt your own! Most families & friend groups would be more than willing to have you as part of their holiday celebrations, but sometimes they are afraid to assume you would be interested. So if you don't get invited, don't be too shy to ask if you can "hang with them" through the holiday season. Hey, it beats the heck out of sitting at home alone while everyone else parties!