Christmas, they tell us, is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. What they don’t tell us is what we’re supposed to do when it isn’t. As the cards and carols like to remind us, Christmas is a time for families and togetherness, peace and well being for all. If only the problems in life paid more attention to the songs on the radio.
If you find yourself facing Christmas alone, December can be the longest month of all. If someone is missing from the celebrations this year, if a family member has been sick, or money worries are keeping you up at night it’s easy to want to echo the Grinch’s sentiment — “I must find a way to keep Christmas from coming!” There are some years when Christmas is more than we can do. But more often, going into hibernation for a month isn’t a realistic plan. Christmas is coming, with or without our permission. So how do you face the season when it doesn’t look the way it used to?
If your circumstances have changes, remember that your plans and even your traditions can change too. This can be hard to explain to other family members, but stick to your guns. If there is an event, even a family dinner that you’re already dreading politely decline. The best part of being an adult is being self-determinant. There are few things that are mandatory — like paying taxes and making sure your kids eat — but there are fewer than you might think. This is supposed to be your season too, take back some control if you need to.
Rearranging Christmas can take many forms. Find the one that’s right for you. It could mean having a quiet Christmas at your house this year. It might mean buying a new set of ornaments for the tree if you’re not up to opening up the memory-packed boxes from last year. It could mean going to a restaurant for Christmas dinner, skipping the whole thing and heading somewhere warm. It really is up to you.
If Christmas is looking unfamiliar this year, if the house is unnaturally quiet there are things you can do to enjoy the season, even if you find yourself alone. Try one of these ideas:
It can be tempting to skip the season altogether, to say “there will be no Christmas in this house this year”. I urge you not to do that. Christmas gets all glammed up, but at the heart of it all, it celebrates a very quiet moment. You can pass up on the extras of Christmas, but don’t miss the promise of the season.
Christmas began with a little baby in a stable. It started with two parents who were tired from a long journey and caught off guard that the baby would choose this particular moment to be born. It wasn’t glamorous, and it wasn’t shiny but it did mark the moment that hope came to the world. (If you’re rusty on the details, you can read the Christmas story from the book of Luke.)
Whatever your circumstances this December, remember that what we’re celebrating here is hope. If you’re not able to wrap your arms around the noise of the season, then just wrap your fingers around that simple truth. Christmas is Christmas because Jesus came down. He came so that whatever we’ve done and whatever has been done to us can be redeemed. He came to pick up the pieces — or as it says in the Bible, he came “to make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). In Psalm 34 it says that he “is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” If that’s you this season, we’d love to help you get to know him. You can send us an email or read more about knowing Jesus.