Welcome to December, where the streets seem busier, the last leaves are falling softly off the already barren trees, and the air has turned cold, leaving you chilly as you go about your regular routines. You can’t seem to go into any store without colorful bursts of red and green. You walk into a local coffee shop and hear that jazzy jingle music, and it's not long before every greeting is, “Have a Merry Christmas!” It’s the holiday season when everything is supposed to be filled with cheer, comfort, and joy.
Can we be honest for a few minutes? The holidays can be complicated, and there isn’t a better way to put it. A year has almost passed, and hundreds of things may have changed the whole course of direction in your life. Many have lost a loved one, and the season can remind you of loss that brings on grief and loneliness. Some may have battled addiction, and it’s the first holiday where they are experiencing holiday parties and family functions without a crutch. A business could have taken a tumble, and people may have burned you the worst way. Individuals can just be burnt out and living in pure exhaustion, ready for the new year to start over.
Whatever the reasons are, not everyone feels so jolly about the Christmas season. And that’s absolutely 100% okay. You’re not a horrible human for not wanting to participate in holiday events and life. Setting boundaries and limits on time and connection with family and friends is a foreign concept to some. It’s okay that Uncle Bob and Aunt Karen don’t know everything about your life. You can make healthy decisions that will allow healing and be suitable for yourself and your family.
While going through life changes and grief, know it’s okay to change your holiday traditions to accommodate your circumstances. This might mean doing things differently than you have in the past or even skipping certain holiday traditions altogether. It seems wild, but you can skip town and start your own traditions. While this option might ruffle some feathers, and some may not understand nor respect what you choose to do, you have to remember that it is vital to prioritize your emotional well-being during this time.
What if putting yourself first changed the whole direction of your life? What if you started taking care of yourself not just physically but mentally? One of the most important things to do when dealing with grief during the holidays is to take care of yourself. This can mean different things for different people, but some examples include getting enough rest, eating foods that make you feel good, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Not forced gatherings where you feel uncomfortable and out of place. It can also be helpful to reach out to trusted friends and family for support or to seek out a support group or counselor to help you work through your feelings.
As you navigate grief, understand that deep hurts are never easy to heal, and pain doesn't fade away overnight. It takes a lot of work and a lot of trust to work through difficulties. It's essential to find and surround yourself with your people- Not just any people; you have to find the RIGHT people. Let's be honest: Sometimes, moving forward in this next season can be as easy as letting go of people who don't belong in your life. But even the right decisions can lead to loneliness while you figure out what is next. But hold tight to that truth that God never leaves your side, and I promise you He will place the right people in your life at the right time. The world is so big, but you may just find out that someone close to you has had a similar experience that can help you walk through some of the same pain and difficulties you face.
I encourage you to make a choice to move forward as you head into this next new season of life, to experience love, healing, and forgiveness so great that you can breathe again. Because through Jesus, those chains that have bound you have been lifted.
The Bible speaks about this peace that God brings to people.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. You can hold tight to the truth that God never leaves our side, no matter what was done to us or what we may have done. We are encouraged to hold tight to His truths and know He will be near us. He will hold our hand and walk us through every hurt and tear.” Psalm 34:18
We know not everything is holly and jolly, nor is merry and bright. We know it’s okay not to feel okay this Christmas. If you’ve had a rocky or heavy year in 2023, here’s your permission to feel and sit in the uncomfortable, instead of making haste on the next task. We invite you to join us this Christmas season in asking big, scary questions of yourself and of God. Let’s give Him room to show up in our lives in a BIG way in 2024. Thank you God for the Victory!
Written By: Kelina Alves