Meghan had a long day yesterday which meant while we were watching a movie she fell asleep on the couch a little after 9pm and pretty much stayed that way until morning. So today while we wait for her wonderful Advent craft, I thought I would talk about something else that has been on my mind. What happens if you are not feeling particularly merry this Christmas?
Christmas is supposed to be ‘the best time of year’ where everyone is of ‘good cheer’. Or so the song says. But for a lot of people it isn’t, and they can’t be. Over the past few weeks I have helped some people say good-bye to loved ones and I have visited other people that know their Christmas will be spent in a hospital room. They all expressed that this Christmas won’t feel right.
But you don’t need to be such dramatic or even so obvious reasons to feel down at Christmas. There are lots of reasons valid reasons you might feel down around the holidays. If you are feeling less than merry right now allow me to suggest three things that may help;
1. Accept Your Feelings-
Have you ever played that game with your clock when you can’t sleep. You keep looking at it and get more and more frustrated that you are awake? You toss and you turn, you count sheep, you read dull things, you try your hardest to fall asleep, but instead all you do is make yourself more upset. I think trying to will yourself merry if there are things in your life weighing you down is a lot like that. Take time to accept that you are not feeling joyful or merry, and enter into that. Some churches have a neat tradition of offering a ‘Blue Christmas’ service. It is for people who have lost a loved one, it is a space to explore mourning at Christmas. You don’t have to do anything this formal but take some time to allow yourself space to explore and enter into your feelings.
2. Remember There Is No ‘Perfect’ Christmas-
As a kid I ‘remember’ Christmas being perfect. Maybe you do to. As an adult I find myself competing against my childhood memories and trying to make Christmas perfect. But I can’t do it. Something always goes wrong, or something unexpected happens. Last year I was so excited to have a 3.5 year old for Christmas. I was ready for my son to be a mountain of energy and excitement. What I ended up with was a boy with a 101 degree fever that didn’t want to open his gifts. Perfect, stress free, 100% joyful Christmas’ don’t exist. But there are lots of good Christmas to be had if we let ourselves.
3. Create New Traditions-
I think for the better part of seven years now our Christmas has been in flux. We have lost people, and we have added people. I don’t think a year has gone by since Meghan and I got engaged that we had the exact same people sitting at the table for Christmas dinner. This has meant some old traditions have ended and some new traditions are starting to take shape. If a tradition has become a burden set it aside even if only for this year, and create something new.
Christmas is a time when you are ‘supposed’ to feel joyful, merry and to use the word as Christmas carols do, gay. But if you don’t feel that way, even if the other things I have said are of no use to you hear this, it’s ok to not feel merry even at Christmas.