The holiday season can be one of the most bitter seasons of the year for those of us who are struggling with empty arms. Almost everything is geared toward family and children and the normal feelings of mourning for the things we’ve lost can take a depressing turn if we’re not careful.
Here are five tips to keep your holiday season beautiful:
1. Start making a list, right now, of things you are thankful for.
Grab a copy of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (on Amazon here) or just pick up a notebook and start listing the beautiful things in your life. They don’t have to be big, any simple little thing will work. I have notebooks filled with lists that look something like this:
25. cinnamon tea on cold days
26. a new calf in the barn
27. the smell of fresh apples
28. a new striped maxi skirt
Focusing on our blessings will automatically make every day better. I promise.
2. Create traditions
It’s easy to think, “Someday, when I have children…” and list off all the fun holiday traditions you want to do. Don’t. Nothing kills joy faster than wishing for something other than what you have. Celebrate today. Invent traditions that you can enjoy right now.
- make a thanksgiving pie while watching a favorite movie
- exchange Christmas ornaments each year with a friend
- go for “Christmas light drives” after dark
- build a snowman (don’t forget the top hat!)
- invite a few friends over for an adults-only candlelight dinner
3. Focus on others.
For years I tried to think ahead of time about ways to make the holiday season easier for myself. I’ll give you a little tip: this doesn’t work. You will never be happy when you’re focused on yourself. Instead, choose something you can do just for the pure pleasure of blessing others.
- watch your friend’s children so they can go Christmas shopping
- invite your nieces and nephews over to make Christmas cookies
- work at a soup kitchen
- visit a nursing home
- show up on a friend’s doorstep with dinner and a board game
- go shopping and put together as many boxes for Operation Christmas Child as possible
4. When you’re struck with sadness (and you will be), don’t get upset. Just deal with it and move on.
One Christmas Eve when we were getting ready to leave my brother’s house, his daughter, the one who looks just like me, came running over to tell us goodbye. “See my jammies,” she said, pointing to her inside out footie-pajamas, “when my mama was little she used to wear her pajamas inside out so it would snow for Christmas.”
She was all giggles and happiness but for some reason I was paralyzed with this deep, horrible sadness. I don’t have a daughter to celebrate fun little mommy-daughter memories with. I cried, right there with my niece’s chubby arms around my neck. She patted my cheeks and asked what was wrong and I just shrugged. My husband scooped her up and told her that sometimes aunties cry.
And it was okay.
It’s always okay to mourn.
Just don’t camp out there or you’ll miss the moments of beauty.
Like when my husband and I walked outside that night and it was snowing, big fluffy white flakes. We stood for a moment and watched it swirl in past the bare branches of the maple tree in the front yard and he dryly commented, “Guess there’s something in that inside out pajama thing.” We burst into laughter and then twirled around the driveway in a mini-waltz with snowflakes coating our jackets and hair.
As a Christian, I believe that every day should be spent for the glory of God but during the holiday season it’s easy for me to get caught up in all the nostalgia and family celebrations and forget that it’s all about Him.
He is. Creator. Savior. King. And a holiday season that is spent worshiping Him will be a beautiful season indeed.
When you’re feeling low, sad or hurting, put on some worship music. Stand quiet. Lift your hands in surrender. Praise Him.
It will heal you up, dear ones, when you look at who He is. Always good. Always full of love and grace. For in Him there is rest and peace and safety.
Tell me a favorite holiday tradition that you have or want to start!