It’s the holiday season, a time of joy and celebration. Everywhere we look, we find bright lights, beautiful decorations and joy, joy, joy! But what happens if we’re just not feeling it? What if we find that we’re just not in the Christmas spirit? What’s wrong with us?
Honestly, nothing. When we feel this way, it is a form of grief. There many reasons people observe grief in the midst of joy. For some, this is the first holiday season without a loved on who passed away earlier in the year. For people experiencing the “first round” of holidays with an obvious absence, the holidays are long and difficult. Almost every part of season makes the absence profound, and people experiencing such grief have to figure out a new normal. For some people, the holiday grief is about transition. When our children become adults and start doing their own thing, we can experience a grief. Again, everything is different, and this is especially true when our children are starting their own families. There are some people who have difficulty when they move to a new area, and the resulting change in the holiday routine leads to a mourning of what used to be. And there are also people who experienced a profound loss during the holidays, and every Christmas serves as a reminder of that loss.
Christmas grief is not dissimilar to grief any other time of the year, but it does seem harder to go through it when all around we hear people wishing one another a Merry Christmas. However, there are some ways we can encounter a little more joy when we are feeling blue. We can become reacquainted with the gospel. Isaiah describes the Messiah as, “…a man of sorrows, acquainted with suffering” (Isaiah 53). Reread the Christmas accounts in Luke and Matthew with an eye to God’s love and care. We can also push ourselves to go to special events. We have one such event this Sunday, the Christmas Joy service, at 3pm. Many churches have similar types of programs. Don’t try to go to all of them; rather, set a simple goal of one to three. Another helpful tool is to share our struggle with someone close to us. A spouse or best friend can be a huge support when we struggle to find joy. Finally, worship can help with grieving. It is common for people to distance themselves from God while grieving, but that is the exact time we must try to get closer. Worship affords us that possibility. If you are grieving, worship will help.
Remember, in this joyous time of the year, not all of us are feeling it. We need to be sensitive to people facing that struggle. We don’t have to abandon our own sense of joy, but we must remember that some of the people around us have a really hard time at Christmas. They will benefit from a kind word and an understanding heart. And we demonstrate that kind of love, we will be sharing the love and grace of Christ in a profound way.