Sad is not a word we like to associate with Christmas, but unfortunately, for many, it’s a sad time of the year. Being sad at Christmas is more common than we like to think.

SAD AT CHRISTMAS: REASONS

Sad Woman

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Expecting people, activities, or even Christmas to fill our hearts is an unrealistic expectation. Only God can truly fill our hearts and expecting other things to do so only prevents us from seeking God for fulfillment.  

Romanticizing our childhood Christmases also creates fanciful  expectations. As a child, it all seemed magical. After all, we didn’t deal with the hustle bustle, shopping, wrapping, delivering, baking, cooking, and general preparations. We just enjoyed the food, fun, gifts, and time off school. 

So lower expectations this year. It is a short season and Christmas is only one day! Keep important traditions and memories alive and leave the rest go. 

BLOWING OUR BUDGET

Sad Blow Budget

While finances can cause stress throughout the year, the Christmas season exacerbates this problem. All the additional expenses put a strain on our budget, and we often feel a need to compete with family and friends in the gift-giving arena. 

Spend less and don’t be troubled if you receive a gift that costs more than what you gave. Give from the heart. Steer your family towards a more Christ-centered Christmas by doing some of the Advent ideas found here. Read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve and do some type of devotion prior to or right after Christmas dinner. Click here for one suggestion. 

PERFECTIONISM

We know who we are! Moreover, we know what we do! We want our Christmas celebrations to measure up to the rest of the world, or perhaps to our childhood memories, therefore we kill ourselves to make it happen!

Subsequently, we stay up too late, which makes us tired, grumpy, and sad. Furthermore, when we decorate it never looks right and we run out (or to the computer) and buy some additional items to make it perfect.

Oh, and the baking. A multitude of cookie choices, and there must be stars, Santas, and tree shaped ones too. Of course, you must prepare everyone’s favorite dessert or dish for the holiday. Thus we spend a lot of extra time grocery shopping and in the kitchen.

Take some advice from above and only hold onto a couple of important traditions. More family time instead of more decorations will be remembered fondly by children. And everything doesn’t have to be just so. Relax a little. We’re not getting the White House ready for Christmas. We need to cut ourselves some slack.  

FAMILY

Forced family get-togethers during the holidays can cause stress and sad feelings.  The gatherings may be uncomfortable, volatile, or silent. Not all families look like a Hallmark card or act like a Hallmark movie. On the contrary, no family looks or acts like Hallmark, thus we suffer from unmet expectations once again. 

Divorce is another family problem. Trying to figure out the“new normal” for the holiday, e.g., sharing time and juggling all the activities of two families can cause us to be resentful and sad at the same time. Christmas post-divorce was a difficult time for me. And surprisingly, screaming “I want my life back,” didn’t make things better!

Plan ahead and minimize the time spent with people who try our patience or make us feel bad about ourselves. When things get heated don’t engage. Stay neutral by acknowledging feelings without agreeing; then change the subject. 

SAD – SEASONAL AFFECTIVE  DISORDER

Less sunlight causes this disorder, and while I’m sure it is more complicated, I am simplifying here. Since the Christmas season has short days, this disorder kicks in with a vengeance in December, causing many people to feel sad. 

Talk to your doctor and see if this is a problem. Treat the disorder to minimize its affects for the remainder of winter. Spend time outside when possible. 

LOSS AND ILLNESS

Illness incites uncertain feelings about the future, which causes us to be sad.

Losing a loved one is certainly a huge cause of sadness during the holidays. A missing person at the table, their laughter, their help with the preparations, etc. When you celebrate or participate in a particular activity or tradition that was special to the one who passed, it inevitably makes us sad. 

Don’t feel guilty. Talk about the person who is gone and allow time for grief. See a counselor if more help is needed. There are some resources listed at the end of this blog that might help.

SAD AT CHRISTMAS: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

Sad Bible

As usual, I turn to women of the Bible for guidance. Today, we will study the pivotal woman in the Christmas story.  How did Mary respond to sad feelings during the first Christmas?  Perhaps we can learn some ways to help us when we are sad – even when its not Christmas.

MARY

Let’s face it, the first Christmas was no picnic. Mary’s pregnancy caused quite a stir and surely she faced scorn in the community. A required census forced Mary to travel with Joseph to Bethlehem, and upon arriving at her destination there is no room at the inn. Thus she gives birth in a cave and places her new son in a feeding trough for animals.

Think Mary was sad at times?  

MARY’S RESPONSE:

She accepted God’s will: Confusion and dismay is Mary’s reaction to the angel’s message; however, she accepted God’s will. Her response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1: 38 NLT). This couldn’t have been easy. How to explain this to Joseph and family? Surely, she knew there would be scorn and disapproval from the community. 

Accepting God’s will is not always easy, but trusting that He knows best and is in control, brings contentment and peace – even in difficult times. 

Spent time with a trusted and godly mentor: After she became pregnant the Bible tells us: “A few days later, Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1: 39).

Spending time with people who make us happy and who are understanding is helpful during the holidays. Although you can’t avoid the toxic people in your life try to find ways to minimize those visits. 

Praised God: Read Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1: 46-55). Despite the hardships ahead, this young woman praised God for the blessing of being chosen and for the salvation this child would bring to all men.

During sad times we should force ourselves to praise God. The Psalms are particularly helpful. Focus on our blessings and keep an eternal perspective. Someday there will be no sadness. 

Kept God close to her heart: Directed by angels, the shepherds visited Jesus. After they left, the Bible tells us: “Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often” (Luke 2: 19). I am sure she smiled to herself as she pondered the miraculous now and in her future.

Sad Close to Heart

When we are sad it is easy to blame God and to stray from His presence in our lives. This is not the correct route to take. Keep our focus on God and seek His comfort by spending time reflecting, praying, and worshiping. When our attention is on God our spirit is lifted.  

Obeyed God: “Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, He was named Jesus, the name given Him by the angel even before He was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so His parents took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2: 21-22).

Despite their circumstances, this couple honored God, by following the God-ordained offerings and traditions. We too should continue to obey God by spending time with believers, Bible study, and service. 

As we struggle with sadness, perhaps we should follow Mary’s example by:  accepting God’s will,  spending time with other Christians we trust,  keeping God close through prayer and worship, praising God in difficult times, and obeying God. 

SAD AT CHRISTMAS: RESOURCES

Sad My Resources

THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS

This not a Christian organization, but as far as I can tell it is not anti-Christian in its mission. This organization helps those who have lost a child. There is a lot of information on their websiteClick here to read one of their blogs about surviving the holiday.

CANDLE LIGHTING

Compassionate Friends conduct annual candle lighting events world wide on the second Sunday of December. Unfortunately, the 2018 service was earlier this month, but you can check their website for local chapters and join in next year.

Sad Candles

New Zealand is the starting point at 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM local time. As one time zone extinguishes their candles at 8:00 PM the next time zone is lighting their candles, subsequently, there are candles burning in memory of the children for twenty-four hours. You can check out this service by clicking here

BLUE CHRISTMAS 

Some churches hold services for those who are sad at Christmas, called Blue Christmas.  Churches conduct these services at different times; however, most of these services are held on the “longest night” of the year – December 21st.

If no local church has a service, you can find some ideas on organizing a service by clicking here.    

WOMEN SEEKING CHRIST

Sad WSC

I realize this Christmas blog was a little heavy. If you want to read something lighthearted, take a look at a blog I wrote at Christmas last year titled Happily Ever After

Praying you have a peaceful and Christ filled Christmas. 

Blessings until next time.