What If Christmas Gives You the Blues?

If You Welcome Christmas Like Ebenezer Scrooge, Try This Remedy

Christmas Blues
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If you dread the Christmas season, you're not alone. For millions of people it's a time of loneliness, feeling blue, and even depression.

On top of that, if you don't feel happy, there's the added guilt that there must be something wrong with you. After all, you think, everybody else seems happy.  Why don't I?

Why the Christmas Blues?

Christmas is a time of expectations. Unfortunately, many of our expectations have become unrealistic, fueled by TV shows and commercials about perfect families and perfect celebrations.

Your own life may be very different.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

Being divorced, widowed, or single during the Christmas season seems to magnify the loneliness you experience during the rest of the year. If your spouse or relative is away in the military, your longing for them is even more painful. If you're ill or disabled, that's a burden in itself.

Maybe you remember happier times. Your circumstances have changed and your cherished family traditions are a thing of the past. It's very hard to adapt when things we once enjoyed are taken away.

Our culture is great for putting unspoken pressure on all of us. If you believed what you see in the media, you'd be attending a holiday party every night from the beginning of December until after New Year's. Your family would be laughing together, delighting in one another's company. You'd buy everyone their favorite present. Everything would be like a Christmas card.

While your life may not be as scary as reality TV, it's probably far from those idealized Christmas scenarios as well. Whether it's a lack of friends, lack of money, or a lack of motivation, it's important that you realize one type of Christmas doesn't fit all of us. Don't feel ashamed if your home isn't a glittering showplace.

Don't be embarrassed if you can't buy a gift for every single acquaintance.

Getting Past the Christmas Blues

Every year you see the slogan, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," and you hear people complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. They have a point, of course, but even that has become tiresome.

If you dread Christmas, these cliches don't help. What you need is to be able to put this season into a perspective that takes the stress out of it. That new perspective puts Jesus Christ first, other people second, and yourself third.

Jesus told us how to do that in Matthew 25:37-40:

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’" (NIV)

By relieving others' suffering, even a little, we glorify Jesus. When he commanded us to love one another, he told us to do it in actions as well as prayers.

Helping the lonely, the neglected, the poor and the ill during the Christmas season may seem like putting even more stress on your time-challenged schedule, but it removes you for a while from "giving for giving's sake" and draws you into the selflessness of God the Father when he gave his only Son to the world for our salvation.

Call it the Christmas spirit if you like, but when you turn this season from an obligation to give into a privilege to give, you'll find that healing perspective.

Giving to Christ Through Others

Jesus doesn't need our time or kindness, but other people do. The best way we can thank him for the gift of eternal life is to show the kind of compassion he modeled. Jesus never turned down a person in need.

Certainly you and I can't give to every cause. You can't be everywhere at once, so don't let this new outlook become another stress-maker. Sometimes the most appreciated gift is a word of encouragement, a simple act of thoughtfulness that can make a huge difference in another person's life.  Remember what encouragement has meant to you, and pass it along.

You can dread the Christmas season or you can enjoy it, by changing your perspective.

Take a vacation from the problems that haunt you, while you make life a little happier for someone else. You can be Jesus' hands and heart, spreading hope.

Hope is not found in presents or parties, music or decorations. Those things are fun for a little while then gone forever.  Hope is in the greatest gift ever given: Jesus Christ. No matter what you dread about Christmas, the hope Jesus promises outshines everything else. 

Look on Jesus with fresh eyes this Christmas. Dare to see him in others. Give the gift of hope to "the least of these."