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Christmas is…

11.22.08

So often, we get stressed or depressed around the holiday season. Some of the reason for this is our expectations of what the holidays mean.

Do we have strange and unrealistic expectations about Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas or New Year’s?

Below are some common Myths/Expectations you may be struggling with. But, challenging those thoughts, and coming to terms with the reality of the holidays can be a freeing and joyful change.

“Christmas is……

…for children.” Oh really? Then how do people without children celebrate? What if a family has a rebellious teen-aged daughter who recently ran away to enjoy drugs and alcohol more than her family? Can adults enjoy the holiday even if their children whine about not enough toys? Can not-so-wealthy adults have fun and celebrate the good news of the arrival of Jesus Christ, God with us, without money or gifts to give to children?

…supposed to be like that Norman Rockwell painting.” Everybody is smiling, anticipating what the turkey will taste like. We project onto that image what we desire: everybody will get along with everybody at OUR table, everybody will be smiling and laughing. Everybody will be grateful for our hard work and compliment every dish we slaved over. Everybody better say something nice about that turkey, and how hard it was to clean this house, and how much we paid for that stupid decoration.

OOPS! What happened? Happiness turned into bitterness as our thoughts turned towards our ungrateful relatives. If we focus on the true meaning of the holiday, and let go of other’s reactions to us, our home, our turkey, or even their reaction to the holiday season, we can focus on what truly counts: God with us, the hope of glory.

…all about family.” Hmm… What about the family that is going through a nasty divorce right now? What about the family whose loved one died this year? What about those without a family? Do THEY get to celebrate anything? Do THEY get to experience the joy of God’s loving, caring comforting spirit, and hope that someday He will make all things right? Do THEY get to experience the saving miracle of Jesus Christ, changing their hearts and lives to be more like Him?

…all about the baby.” Tell that to the couple who is struggling with infertility. Tell that to the childless adults who live happily without babies. Tell that to the parent whose baby just died. I thought the point
of Christmas was that God wanted to be near us, and just so happened to send his Son in the form of a baby.

…all about making a good impression.” What kind of shallow materialistic person have I become, if I boil down a glorious holiday like Christmas into appearances? So, do I really believe that if my neighbors, or people at work or school think that I look a certain way, I will be accepted? If I focus on what things look like, what dishes I have, how my house looks, having the “right” sweater or dress, I have missed the point entirely: God with us, the hope of a life now, and a future with Him. So what if my sister doesn’t like the present I gave to her! That’s HER issue before God.

Man sees the outward appearance, but God knows our hearts.

If you are having a difficult time this season, perhaps you can take heart in the fact that God doesn’t expect all those things that I wrote about above. God cares about you, as a person, and all your struggles, joys and sorrows. God loves you and wants to comfort you, if you will let Him. Be real with your emotions toward God, and He will show Himself to you, in often unexpected, joyful ways.

You may have guessed my thoughts about the TRUE meaning of Christmas: God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, because He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. And not just so we get to Heaven. He wants us to have a wonderful life, filled with the abundance of His grace and Love and Blessings right here and now.

Even if we have some difficult times, and suffer great loss, the good news is this: Emmanuel, God with us, to give us a future and a hope, to comfort us and guide us through this life and the next. God wants to comfort us, so that we might turn around and comfort others.

Thanks for reading. I pray you have a blessed attitude with appropriate expectations for the holiday season.

anxiety resources

helpful websites

  • TroubledWith: Stress
    Excellent collection of resources on dealing with anxiety disorders, as well as when and how to seek treatment.
  • Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA)
    National, non-profit membership organization dedicated to informing the public, healthcare professionals and legislators about anxiety disorders, promote the early diagnosis, treatment and cure of anxiety disorders, and improve the lives of the people who suffer from them.
  • Freedom From Fear
    National not-for-profit mental health advocacy association developed to impact, in a positive way, the lives of all those affected by anxiety, depressive and related disorders through advocacy, education, research and community support.