I’m going to be really honest: sometimes I dread this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love to celebrate the birth of my Savior, but it can be difficult to see all the happy little families doing happy little Christmas traditions when your own family is broken. I miss those traditions terribly, so if you are fortunate enough to still experience them, do not take them for granted. This year, I am attempting to be intentional in my efforts to find joy this holiday season. Here are some tips on how to find joy in the Christmas season when you feel like the Grinch.
- Create new traditions with new people.
Creating a new tradition allows you to have something else to look forward to every year around the holidays, without any old memories or expectations attached. I love dressing up in crazy Christmas sweaters with my friends—the tackier the better. Make up your own tradition or try out a new one, like the ones I found here.
- Give back
I cannot emphasize how much giving back will help you overcome the holiday blues. Recognizing that there are people in this world who would love to have my “bad days” puts things in perspective and makes me realize how blessed I am. One of my favorite ways to give back is by volunteering at the Samaritan’s Purse processing plant for Operation Christmas Child. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, donate canned goods to a food drive, offer your guest room to the international student who can’t make it home for the holidays; it doesn’t matter how you give back as long as you find it meaningful. Focusing on what you can do for your community rather than longing for the “perfect” Christmas will lead to self-fulfillment and joy. When you take the “me” out of the equation and set your heart on helping others, I promise you will find joy.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
The Grinch didn’t achieve the enthusiasm of Buddy the Elf overnight. Allow yourself to be sad—but only for a little while. Make up your mind to move on to other, happier thoughts after you allow yourself to grieve. If we never let ourselves experience these sad feelings, they will bottle up overtime and, before you know it, you will blow up over the smallest thing, like opening a Christmas card will have you in tears. When I get the “holiday blues,” I tell myself, “Okay, you have 30 minutes to sit here and be sad, and then you have to get up and move on with things.” As silly as this may sound, it actually works. Giving yourself that time to grieve can be very therapeutic. Go for a run, make your favorite snack, read a good book, or mediate on God’s word. Take care of yourself so you will be ready to face the holidays.
- Focus on the meaning of Christmas
Jesus was born into our broken world to bear our sin and die on the cross so that we may experience salvation and eternal life with Him in Heaven. On that night in Bethlehem, no one was showing off her perfect Christmas card with her perfect family. Jesus had to be born into our broken world because we are sinners in need of a savior. So, if you find yourself stuck in the holiday blues because of your less-than-perfect family situation, your broken relationship, your lack of finances, or any other trial you may be experiencing, just remember that the Lord became man to save us—broken and all.