I have to admit that I have started this blog posts several times in the last two weeks. I wanted to write both about the joys of the holiday season and the reality that I am not feeling particularly joyous this year. As a mom, I can’t just decide to skip Christmas. I can tone it down a bit, and have done so due to health issues and a general lack of energy, but I cannot just skip Christmas. Honestly, I don’t want to skip Christmas so much as I want to find my missing holiday cheer. This has always been my favorite holiday. I love how people are nicer to one another, the look on the kids’ faces when they see light displays and the fun of annual traditions.
This year, I just feel ambivalent.
It is a sad and gray feeling. One at odds with my usual personality. I could come up with a list of possible reasons, but they don’t really matter. What does matter is what I have learned from the experience.
First, I have gained empathy for those who do not enjoy Christmas. Those, who find the holiday season a sad or lonely time. For any out there who feel this way, you have my sympathy and my prayers. I ask you to remember that you are not alone. I would give each one of you a hug and a friendly ear.
Next, I have learned that the best way to find joy is to actively seek it. A fitness instructor I took classes from used to tell us, “don’t think, just do.” Deliberately do that next thing, then the next. This is great advice when facing a class of one hundred burpees. It is also good advice for stepping from sadness into joy. The leader of my small group Bible study often tells us that, “attitude follows action.” It is so true. Each of those Christmas activities that you don’t want to deal with can be a stepping stone to enjoying the Christmas season.
Giving to others is also a proven way to boost moods. To that end I have volunteered in the kids classrooms, baked cookies and taken the kids shopping to fill boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Later today the kids and I will spend an hour downtown collecting toys and money as part of Wrapping Up the Holidays with Mixx 96.1. Prepping for these activities may have taken a large cup of coffee and a reminder that I was for the good of all. Yet at the end of the day I am glad for each one. Not only
have I spent extra time with my kids and showed them the value of helping others, I have helped myself to enjoy Christmas.
It has taken several weeks, but I am finally feeling the Christmas spirit. I may still not be at my most joyous, but there are many moments of joy. Moments of finding myself grateful to notice and enjoy the feel of my daughter’s hand in mine and the joy on her face as she picks out the perfect gift for her brother, time spent snuggled on the couch with the kids and a Christmas book or movie and the sound of their voices lifted in song.
I wish each of you a joy-filled Christmas as we celebrate the gift of Jesus and family.