Are You Feeling Cheerful Yet? (the trouble with holidays)

Are you excited that the holidays are coming—or do you dread this season? I am always surprised at how fast the holiday season sneaks up on me. The fact that the stores had their Christmas stuff out before Halloween was over certainly didn't help. But now that the holidays are truly around the corner, how do you feel? Are you excited, stressed, overwhelmed, depressed and anxious? All of the above? Just getting through the list of things to do before the holidays arrive would stress out the calmest person, so I am not surprised to see stressed and anxious faces around me as we shuffle through lines of people getting ready for the holidays. Yet, there is an even deeper trouble that comes with the holidays. The holidays have the magical power of highlighting everything that we think is wrong in our lives, every loss, every death, every unfulfilled dream, every bad diagnosis, broken relationship, everything we are dealing with or running away from—all our joys, losses, and sorrows get magnified by the holidays. Our pain haunts us ever more during the time that is portrayed as “the most wonderful time of the year.” How can we be joyful when now we are brought back to our pain? How can we celebrate when our hearts are breaking all over again? If you dread the holidays, I hope you know you are not alone! The holidays bring up past and present hurts and wounds to the forefront for most of us. Some of those wounds have become scars by now, but others are still very much painful and there. So what do we do? How do we get through this cheerful season with a heavy heart? First of all, by acknowledging and embracing the fact that our wounds will be more raw during this season. By not denying the fact that we hurting, we become free and open to healing. Running away or denying pain only delays it for a little while. Secondly, talking to someone we trust with your wounds helps to unburden our weary souls and we get refreshed though the gift of listening! Recognizing that we are hurting, talking about it and finding good support is extremely important. God told us to carry each other's burdens and to come to Him. Maybe you know someone who could use a listening ear? Praying for God's strength, wisdom, and guidance is another crucial step in handling the holidays. Through prayer, we are able to receive God's grace and peace, we center and calm our anxious minds. Letting go of our expectations of others and of ourselves (or other's expectations of us), and forgiving ourselves for not being or doing whatever we are supposed to be or do is another step towards wholeness. Lastly, remembering the holidays for what they truly are—the reason behind the season—will allow us to focus on God and his people the way the holidays remind us to do. Because the fact that God loved us so much that he sent His Son on this Earth to walk among us is the true source of joy for us, holidays or not. We are His children whom He loves whether we are hurting or not, perfect or not, whole or not. The holidays are an invitation to a new communion with God. Maybe you have a special verse or Christmas carols that give you hope and peace and fill your soul with the Christmas spirit? I always turn on my favorite Christmas music as we decorate the tree or make cookies (with kids it can be kind of stressful) and it always sets a more peaceful atmosphere in our home as we remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. May you be blessed as you remember God's love for you and connect with God in new, meaningful ways during this holiday season. In Christ, Henrieta P. S. We welcome your comments about what helps you during the holidays. Do you have a special song or a verse that gives you peace and hope? What do you do to deal with the holidays? Do you have a person in your life who could use a listening ear during this time?

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