The “holiday blues” are very real for many this time of year. Not only are the nights longer and colder, but the Christmas season also brings a flood of memories of past holidays. Some of these memories, while wonderful, are often filled with loved ones who have died. Other memories are of longstanding arguments (family feuds) that resurrect every Christmas.
At Christmas, some pressure themselves to get into a certain feeling, often by buying lots of gifts. As the author and businessman Dave Ramsey says, “We try to impress others we don’t like by buying things they don’t need with money we don’t have!” These purchases add up during December, which creates credit card woes in January.
Were this not enough, the general hype of the season itself can cause maudlin emotions. Whether it’s the music, the decorations, or even the outrageous advertisements, a little of the festive spirit can go a long way. While it may seem difficult – even impossible – to fight all the blues during this time of year, here are a few things I suggest.
First, do not get pressured into having a certain feeling. God is not impressed with our “masks,” but he does delight in our transparency. It might be helpful to write down your feelings and reflect on why they occur. If possible, share them with a good friend. Above all, share them with God.
Second, place the biblical account of Christmas first and foremost in your mind. The Advent season helps by reading a daily portion of Scripture during the month of December. This helps us keep Christmas in a proper perspective.
Third, shed yourself of the rampant commercialism of the season. The prophet Amos spoke of merchants who couldn’t wait for the festivals to be over, so they could get back to their nefarious business practices (Amos 8:5-6). It’s possible that some modern merchants use Christmas in the same manner. Avoid as much of this as possible, and focus celebrating what life means with Jesus in it.
Fourth, give to others in appropriate ways. It is often said that we gain many benefits by helping others, and the Christmas season is a good catalyst for the year ahead. Find opportunities for service throughout your church and community.
In 1985, I served as a missionary in Scotland. While Christmas that year was lovely with my church, it meant I was away from my family at Christmas for the first time. In my journal, I wrote the following: “Christmas is Christ — nothing more. Everything else is a fringe benefit.”
By paring down the Christmas season to that one Person, it will help you recalibrate all that is around you. May Jesus shine down on you this Christmas.
Ken Gore is professor of biblical studies at Dallas Baptist University. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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