Let’s face it: Christmas can suck. Buying presents can and will drain your bank account. You may have to put up with people you don’t like during yet another obnoxious holiday party. And the pressure of having a “Merry Christmas” can cause domestic strife, especially if you’re not feeling very merry this time of year.
It’s okay to hate Christmas.
My parents got divorced a year and a half ago, and ever since then, the word “Christmas” doesn’t have such a pleasant ring to it. If you’re like me, or like my friend the Grinch, you may at times find yourself suddenly surrounded by throngs of happy Whos when all you want to do is curl up in an ice cave and hibernate until January. Worse, these feelings of isolation and sadness can cause you to ruin Christmas for others, and we all know Cindy Loo Who and Tiny Tim don’t deserve that.
While shutting out all your feelings is not a healthy approach to dealing with the Holiday Season, there are some things we can all do to make it a little more bearable. I present to you: The Grinch’s Guide to Surviving Christmas.
1. Let yourself feel your emotions for once. Before you have to be around people. Write some angry or weepy letters that you don’t send. Fight that punching bag. Let yourself cry. If you let yourself feel it now, you’ll be progressing through the healing process. But if you keep bottling it up, it’s gonna sit there and make you miserable. Dealing with your emotions before you’re around your relatives can help you both prepare to see them and prevent you from transforming into the Grinch.
2. Don’t put on a façade. Pretending you’re a happy Who when in reality you’re feeling down is exhausting and isolating. No need to tell your cousin’s boyfriend’s sister your life story, but don’t feel the need to smile more than you genuinely want to. Not only will this keep you from becoming an emotional blizzard, but it might also take the pressure of looking merry off a Cindy Loo Who near you.
3. This sounds terribly cliché, but I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy Christmas at all without this one: Remember the Reason for the Season. Contrary to whatever idealistic images the media may spout at us, Christmas is not about family. If Christmas were about family, and your family situation happened to suck, then Christmas, as well as a slough of other holidays, would always have to suck.
Christmas doesn’t have to suck. Christmas can be okay, even good. Because in the end, what you’re celebrating is not the idea of a four-person family with enough money for the holidays and perfect relationships with each other. Christmas is Jesus’s birthday party. It’s a celebration of His love that has come to rescue us from the dark and gloomy circumstances in which we find ourselves.
I pray that Jesus would be your hope this winter. And that He would heal our hearts and make them bigger in the midst of the cold.