When Christmas is Anything BUT Joyful

Christmas is a magical time for many. But not for all. For some people Christmas is anything but joyful. It is a hard time of year.

when christmas is anything but joyful

Today I had this whole post planned out. It had nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with thrift store shopping, because hey, who doesn’t love to talk about the treasures you can find when secondhand shopping?

But it’s a few days before Christmas. And while our family has many wonderful moments in this house during the holidays, there are some not so pleasant things we struggle with, and the holidays seem to magnify the pain of those trials.

And today it became too much.

I’m talking crawling-into-bed-uncontrollably-sobbing-wishing-for-the-holidays-to-disappear. Feeling like I can’t do one more holiday with the same trials that steal my joy during the season, year after year.

Now, before you think I am being over dramatic, let me tell you, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had uncontrollable sobbing. Sure, I cry a bit here and there, but nothing like today, with the covers over my head, crying so hard I can barely get the words out to my husband, praying for strength,and ignoring the fact that I had NO time to be wasting lying in bed with my long Christmas to-do list.

Why would I share this kind of stuff here on the Internet for everyone to read? Because I know there are others out there struggling too at this time of year and I want them to know they are not alone. I know that there are many out there who have parts of the holiday season that they dread. Or maybe they don’t want any part of Christmas because it’s just too painful. I want those people to know that they CAN GET THROUGH THIS.

Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and are deeply missing them or experiencing your first Christmas without them. Or maybe you’ve lost your job around the holidays and the fear of how you will afford Christmas and the bills after that keeps you up at night. Or maybe there are struggles with family, and holiday get-togethers bring pain. Maybe you are suffering from deep loneliness right now.

There are a variety of reasons the holidays can hurt.

And it can feel like salt in the wound when you look around and see all the people around you enjoying all that the season has to offer.

When you feel buried under pain at Christmas time, I want to tell you that there is hope. That even though days are hard right now, there are better days coming.

Today I want to share some tips on how to get through the holidays when Christmas is ANYTHING but Joyful.

Take it one day at a time. It’s easy to look at the whole holiday season – maybe the two weeks at Christmas or even the whole month of December and to feel overwhelmed at what you are facing. Instead just look at each day on it’s own. It’s easier to look at tomorrow and say “I can get through tomorrow” then to think “how will I get through a whole month while struggling like this?”

Only take on what you can handle. It’s okay to say you can’t make it to everything. You don’t want to isolate yourself, of course, but make sure you have room in your schedule to take a breather. Limit situations that are extremely painful or toxic to your well-being.

Take some time for you. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you are feeling overwhelmed with sadness during the holidays make time for yourself to manage the chaos going on in your heart. That might mean just taking a walk by yourself, or reading a book, or spending a night in instead of out at a Christmas party. It might mean limiting your time at a Christmas celebration or even having a good cry or confiding in a good and trusted friend.

Savor the little things. When Christmas time is enough to make you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut turn your attention to the little things. Simple moments like baking Christmas cookies with your kids, going on a date with your spouse, or singing carols in church can bring so much joy to a hurting heart.

Pray. First of all, pray for strength from God. Pray that He will help you feel his presence throughout the whole Christmas season. Then pray for someone else. More than likely there is someone you know who is struggling over the holidays as well. If you have the emotional strength, reach out to them. There is strength in numbers.

Remember that the holidays will pass. While whatever you are struggling with most likely won’t go away after the Christmas season, often times the pain isn’t as magnified. Try to remember that though the days are hard right now, there are brighter days on the horizon.

I don’t know who needs to read this, but even for that one person out there I want to say that you are not alone. There are others who know pain during the holidays. But more importantly, God is there with you. And while you may not be able to make sense of the struggle you are going through right now, I truly believe that no matter what we are going through, it can be used for good one day. How that is possible may not be clear for awhile, but there can be beauty that comes out of the pain.

Related: How to Keep Going When you Want to Give Up

6 thoughts on “When Christmas is Anything BUT Joyful”

  1. Right there with you and I know exactly what you mean. Two years ago my husband had a heart attack on Dec 27th and then was in a coma that I was told he would never wake up from for 10 days. Christmas is terrifying for me now. I am so afraid that he will get over tired or stressed because of the brain injury that he was left with and go down again. We are trying hard to get through. I know our kids are afraid, too but we all just have to face it and do it. Hugs to you.

  2. Dear Amanda, I do wish and hope that you feel better now! Your kind and wise advice is so much needed and appreciated – if you only knew… I’m sorry, though, to understand that you got much of your wisdom the hard way. Remember that you are like a lantern, spreading light and warmth to others and truly helping people. Thank you so much!

    1. I am feeling better now, thank you for asking.:) And thank you for your kind words. I hope you had a restful holiday and are ready for another year and all that it may bring.:)

  3. Dear Amanda:

    Thank you for your sharing. It is my hope each Christmas will get a bit better and better for you. Christmas is less than two months away. On Christmas day 2017, my dear brother did not wake up and died unexpectedly of a heart problem that morning in his sleep. Two weeks later my mother was put on a ventilator for pneumonia and became well in March. The same night she left the life care facility, she died unexpected of a heart attack. At the end of March, I was laid off my job. Later, in July, my only sister died unexpectedly of a heart attack. To be honest, I do not really remember much of 2018 other than surviving day to day until the complicated grief lifted a little in February/March 2019. In truth, I spent most of my life caring for others and chose to sacrifice having my own family in order to free myself to visit the sick, the elderly, sit with the dying, etc. It just never occurred to me that I would lose my whole family in less than seven months. To be honest, I am already dreading Christmas 2019. With all my heart (which is healthy as I had it tested), though, I just do not wish to be a third wheel at another family’s Christmas. Thus, I will probably go away for Christmas by myself. If any good is to come out of my pain and suffering, I would ask for readers to realize that nothing is more important than “relationships.” Make the best of the one’s you are blessed with. Free yourself from the dysfunctional one’s by creating health boundaries for yourselves. If you have the blessing to start another family, do it! Blessings.

    1. I am so sorry for such a hard end to 2017 and difficult 2018 for you! It sounds like you have been through so much. You say so many good things in your post. As doe feeling like the third wheel at another family’s Christmas, I pray that you wouldn’t feel that way. While i know it is different because it isn’t just me and it’s my whole family, we have spent some holidays with other families who have invited us over to their own family’s holiday celebration. I understand the awkwardness that can come from it, but it can also be a huge blessing. However, going away for the holidays would probably be pretty great too. 🙂 Whatever you do, I pray this Christmas will be a season of rejuvenation and comfort for you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *