I am SO excited to share this special “Christmas story” from my latest book, “Grace In High Heels.” I hope that it blesses you as you keep CHRIST in Christmas. Enjoy!
As I stood in aisle three of the local “Hobby Lobby,” I could hardly contain myself. While shoppers briskly passed me humming tunes of Christmas joy, I stood among the Christmas trim crying my eyes out. “Shannon, get it together” I thought. How could anyone be so sad in the middle of all this joy? Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year” after all. This year, I volunteered to buy Christmas flowers and decorate my Grandparent’s graves. My “Mama and Papa” and “Grandmother and Grandfather” are buried in a large cemetery within yards of one another. We drive four hours from home each year to place Christmas flowers and a special ornament on their tombstones. Christmas was always a very special time with them and I still recall amazing memories.
As “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” streamed through the store’s speakers, I wiped the tears from my face. With each stem of flowers I chose on aisle three, I remembered the wonderful times I shared with my Grandparents. I also remembered how much I miss them. I tried desperately to fight the tears, then gave up. So what if someone saw me crying? I am sure they could relate to missing someone at this time of year. The clerk who helped me with my purchases blew my cover when she asked, “are you alright?” I thought that was odd, so I smiled a sheepish smile and answered, “yes.” I looked in the mirror when I got to my car thinking my cashier might be prophetic. How did she know I had been crying? I quickly discovered the answer. I’d left a trail of glitter on my face from wiping my tears after holding the flowers. I looked like a snow globe had exploded on my head. I laughed, then found it comforting that even when I felt sad, there was still joy that could not be taken from me.
Many things can bring about difficult emotions during the holidays. Some of these “triggers” include unresolved guilt, past losses, anticipating a significant loss, disappointment with a current situation and the contrast of the “image” of the holidays with the reality of our lives. Although these are very real issues and must be addressed accordingly, we are not helpless. The greatest gift was given one Christmas night over two thousand years ago to remind us that we can survive, and even thrive, in the most difficult circumstances. We have a “comforter” who understands our weaknesses and He promises to help us each moment. His name is Jesus.
Many of the holiday “blues” we experience come as a result of how we think about our circumstances- past, present and future. The mind is the battlefield, and the enemy of our soul knows which dagger to throw and when. For many of us, it is at the holidays. Not only are we more stressed as we face crowds and a significant increase in spending, we see the “ideal” Christmas on television that reinforces how much we have missed the mark in our own lives.
One of the most common holiday stress factors is financial. Why not take the pressure off and look at things a bit differently this year? Agree to limit the number of gifts you purchase. Find that hard to do? Think about this for a moment. Can you recall all you received for Christmas last year? I can recall one gift. Not too impressive, is it? Why not use some of the time that you would usually spend shopping and set it aside to write down all God has done for you this year? Those are gifts that you will remember for many years to come.
Another “trigger” for the holiday blues is the grief of past loss or the anticipation of a significant loss. This is a very real experience and we must treat it as such. When we are willing to face the grief we feel and deal with it constructively, the agonizing pain can subside. When dealing with grief from a loss during the holidays, it is helpful to remember the following:
-It is ok to cry. Tears are a language that God understands. He understood mine in aisle three of “Hobby Lobby.”
-Do not try to over exert yourself during this time. Set reasonable expectations for what you will do and allow yourself to receive as well as give.
-While you treasure and respect the old traditions, set one new tradition for your holiday. This often makes the transition easier and there is less guilt over moving from tradition too quickly.
-Remember that Christmas is only one day out of the year. It does not determine the rest of your life-Jesus does.
-Do one thing that you really enjoy-get a new haircut, take a bubble bath, read a book you have been longing to read
-Talk to one person that you feel safe with and let them know how much you value your relationship with them. If you cannot think of one person, allow that to be a new goal for you in the coming year. Ask God to bring you the friend He has chosen just for you.
Do not allow the lies of your emotions to rule your holiday season this year. Ask God to help you in the areas that are difficult. Pray that your expectations are only those that He would have you hold. Keep the focus the focus and allow this Christmas to be the best you have ever experienced. Not because of the gifts, or the tree, or the lights or even the people, but because of THE ONE who came as a baby that precious Christmas night to give His life just for YOU. He had YOU on Him mind then, and He has never forgotten you. “He will never leave you or forsake you.”
Allow the giver of all good gifts to redefine your holidays this year. He gave the most celebrated gift in history. Imagine what He can do in your life this year!< Back to Blog Listing
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