We’re having a bit of a different Christmas around here. It’s for a good reason…my middle daughter is having a baby soon and our oldest daughter is flying out to see her and this new little one while said oldest daughter is on break from teaching. So that means two of the five kiddos (and their spouses) will not be around for the holidays. That’s 40%. Almost half of us aren’t here.
We’ve been watching old VHS tapes of when all the older ones were littles with much of the tapings being around Christmas. The memories are beautiful but it’s also a reminder of just how different things are now.
Not all bad mind you. Just different.
The kids were all under one roof. Now three of the five are married blending traditions of both families as their own. Todd’s parents and sister and my grandparents were all alive and well. Those are treasured times and moments that pass too quickly.
This year finds me feeling funky. What do you do when Christmas is different?
I woke up in the wee hours one morning with an acronym of GRACE on my mind and in my heart. Maybe you could use it this year too.
G is for give.
As in give YOURSELF some grace this year. Sometimes it’s easier to give to others than receive from yourself. We can certainly say to a friend, Of course you are sad (or bummed or blue or sick or whatever). It’s hard when things change (or you lose someone or your health is bad or it’s different).
It’s okay to tell yourself that too. Cut yourself some slack, do what you can then gift yourself with grace.
R is for rest.
With all the hustle-bustle and added details…shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, parties, programs etc…of the season we forget or don’t allow for a time to rest.
Keep your quiet time appointment with the Lord. Allow yourself 15 minutes to simply be still or catch a quick nap. Spend a few minutes in the twinkle of the tree lights thinking through all you have to be thankful for. Don’t have a tree? That’s okay. Light a candle, grab a book or magazine and allow yourself some down time.
Self-care is important especially during busy (different) seasons.
A is for acknowledge.
Acknowledge your true feelings. Talk to someone…a counselor, pastor or friend about what you’re feeling…really feeling. Shoving emotions down because you shouldn’t feel this way or you feel like a Scrooge isn’t healthy and will come out somewhere else…hello cookies!
Stop telling yourself you should or shouldn’t do or feel a certain way and be honest with your emotions.
C is for cherish and change.
You get a two for one special here. Cherish those memories! When I look back at the Christmases gone by I LOVE seeing everyone together. The traditions, the food, the gatherings, the gifts. But life is about change. Some things need to go. Others need to be changed up a bit.
Do I miss some of those earlier years when my kids were all little and under my roof? I’d be lying if I said no. But I am learning to enjoy the rhythm of a new norm with a balance of old and new traditions.
Remember: just because you always have doesn’t mean you always have to.
E is for engage.
When your holidays are different, either from loss or even good things, it’s easy to withdraw from the world. It’s easy to assume everybody else is singing about the most wonderful time of the year and not struggling at all.
Don’t buy into that lie. Don’t withdraw. Please don’t.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing…coffee with a friend, serve in a shelter, go for a walk with a buddy, volunteer at church, visit people in a nursing home, deliver cookies to the hospital or abuse shelter….but do something. Serving, engaging gets us thinking outside of ourselves.
God sees us, you and me. He knows our struggle. He feels our pain. He knows when our Merry Christmas! is more like “Many Grievings.” It’s why he sent Hope in the form of a newborn babe, a Son, his One and Only…to help us through when things are different.
And that is GRACE.
Fiercely for YOU!