Luke 2:8-11 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, face masks were lined up next to presents and snacks. Silence filled the air save for a cough and a sneeze and a tossing and turning in bed. The children had cried until their bodies gave way to sleep for, they feared that Santa wouldn’t come down their chimney because COVID had entered their house. But up in the sky many years ago a star shone out with no thought for how well the humans below felt. The angel appeared to the shepherds with their good news which did not depend on any calculations of new cases of COVID or any other disease. For One had been born who would wipe away tears and heal the hurting and broken hearted. This Christmas, stars will shine in the sky and songs will be heard among the breezes as many will celebrate the birth of the Savior in spite of all the sickness that lay below. May this Christmas find you remembering the true meaning of Christmas and the One who came to heal the sick and broken hearted and gladden hearts with hope. And hope is truly the one thing we are all looking for this Christmas above all others. May God fill your homes with love and comfort and may joy rise up in the hearts of you and yours this Christmas.
Psalm 30:11 - You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.
With Christmas upon us it can be difficult for those who have recently lost a loved one. Your first Christmas after losing a loved one somehow causes the glow of Christmas to turn into a dark sky.
Everywhere you look you see reminders of the one you lost. Maybe you hear their favorite Christmas song, and you remember singing it together. Or perhaps you don’t want to put up a Christmas tree, because the scent from the tree will take you back to funny memories of trying to pick just the right tree and ending up cutting half of it off when you got home.
So what do you do? Turn off the radio or don’t put on a Christmas CDs? Do you forgo getting that tree? And when you’re invited to join others in their homes for Christmas do you come up with a reason to say no?
How do you navigate the waters of the season? Psychcentral.com in their article, “Beating the Holiday Blues,” has some tips on facing your first Christmas after losing a loved one. One of their ideas is create your own traditions. If old ones bring up painful memories, then make some new ones. Another is to stay busy and avoid unstructured time. Find fun ways to fill up your days. Even if you don’t feel like having fun, by moving forward and allowing yourself to feel the loss, but also feel the hope that somehow this Christmas will be filled with joy and not just sorrow.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. The psalmist, David, was going through tough times. He was mourning over his loses, yet somehow his mourning turned into joy; he was able to take off his mourning clothes and pick up clothes of joy.
What does this mean? In biblical times after someone had died, they put on dark clothes made out of a scratchy material and even put ashes on their heads. It was a sign to those around them that something awful had happened such as the death of a loved one.
It was significant then that David was able to put those clothes away and not just put on regular clothes but clothes that showed he was no longer mourning publically. It didn’t mean that he wasn’t sad inside. That would heal with time. But he was choosing to focus instead on all the good things in the rest of his life.
It would not be right for someone else to tell you how long you should mourn. That is up to the hurting one. But by looking at this verse, and the suggestions above, we can find the road back to be joy.
May this Christmas be a reminder of favorite songs and putting up Christmas trees, but let’s focus on the happy memories and make some new ones at the same time. I know that’s what I’m trying to do; put away the bad memories and create new moments that will fill my heart throughout the Christmas season.
Key words: holiday blues, loved one passes, Christmas reminders, old memories and new, mourning turned to joy
Luke 2:8-10 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
For many people, the Christmas season can be difficult.
And perhaps it’s Christmas 2020 and you are suffering from COVID Christmas depression.
Things will certainly be different this year.
As silly as this may seem - What if your children ask you about Santa Claus and wonder if he come down the chimney this year with everybody so sick?
All of these are valid reasons to feel a bit blue. But let’s back track the thoughts above and brainstorm what we could do to help bring joy to your Christmas.
You don’t have to let COVID bring with it Christmas depression. There are many ways there can still be joy this Christmas. And fun ways to make new memories.
Mayoclinic.org in their article, “Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping,” provides us with more ideas on coping with depression such as reaching out to others if you are lonely or isolated. Many churches and community centers have ways to help you feel like you’re not alone. In addition, be realistic. Realize that Christmas will indeed be different this year, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing as I wrote above.
Take a look at the Bible verses above. The shepherds were afraid when they saw the angel but they didn’t have to be afraid because they were given the best news they’d heard before and they were filled with joy. Don’t be afraid this Christmas to find the joy even if you’re afraid of what this COVID Christmas will look like.
Key words: COVID, Christmas depression, difficult Christmas, unique ideas for Christmas, make new memories
Ecclesiastes 7:14 - When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
When things are going well do you feel guilty because you’re having a good time?
For some people life has been especially rough. So, when good things begin to happen, they hold off on completely enjoying themselves, because they believe eventually something bad is going to happen. In addition, something may have happened in their past that is their fault, and they may feel like they don’t deserve to be happy.
Realistically we know that life will not always give us happy moments. However, mixed into those negative moments are some really good ones.
So how do we stop expecting the worst to happen all the time and start believing the best will come? Realize that you might be catastrophizing. Here’s a start, first, make a list of the things that are bad in our lives. Dwell on that list. Think about the bad things until they are crystal clear:
Now let’s turn our thoughts in the opposite direction and make a list of the things that are going right in your life to see that good can happen:
What are these areas?
Does reading this help you have a new perspective? It’s possible to turn your life around and believe you can enjoy life. I was stuck for many years in the muck and mire of blaming myself for everything wrong in my life, and this caused me to never fully enjoy life. I make a point now to pause so to speak during a family event or times spent with a friend and allow myself to take a breath and enjoy the moment. You can too!
Harleytherapy.co.uk in their article, “Catastrophizing – Always Assuming the Worst? Why You Need to Stop,” give us some advice on how to stop expecting the worst all of the time. Their ideas include realizing negative thinking can be a learned habit, it can be connected to a bad past, it is connected to anxiety and anxiety disorders, and it can be symptoms of a personality disorder. So how do they recommend stopping catastrophizing? By learning to tell the difference between a thought and reality. Write down your thoughts and see if it sheds light on what you’re feeling. Also, ask yourself what the feelings are behind catastrophizing and try to see how that feeling is leading you to expect the worst all of the time. Another way is to write down your thoughts and talk about them to a friend or a therapist.
Realize also, as the Bible verse above says, when times are good, be happy. And when they’re bad, know that God has made them both and he will help you find the joy in the midst of all of life’s up and down points.
Key words: catastrophizing, expecting the worst, good can happen, perspective
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.