a Different Kind of Christmas Nostalgia
Do you ever feel overwhelmed with varying emotions at Christmas time? On one hand you have a twinge of excitement, while at the same time you find yourself frequently holding back tears? Those holiday “Hallmark” Christmas movies can often cause this
, but I am talking about more than just that. Maybe you find yourself grumpy, easily angered, irritable for no reason…a real Grinch?! Do you find yourself feeling lonely, disconnected, deflated and let down by the commercial “Christmas spirit”?
I don’t know what to say, my holiday blues (or “Grinchy heart”) isn’t the cause of the loss of a loved one, separation from family (whether divorced, estranged or by distance), a result of chronic illness, or financial stress.
No, my blues come from something I think most would find weird, unexpected, and maybe even unnoticed…and yet, I’m wondering if any of you can relate?
I have realized and acknowledge that there are holiday season issues and stresses that can also contribute to these feelings. They can be a result of a crazy holiday schedule, trying to manage all the Christmas shopping, decorating, preparations, family mealtimes and trying to steal a moment here and there to watch those favorable Christmas shows…so frankly, exhaustion does come into play. However, my “holiday blues” feels like it goes beyond scheduling issues. I decided to spend some time digging deeper within myself to see why I may be feeling this way, after all I owe it to my husband, family and myself to investigate this emotional wreckage I’m feeling during what is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year!”
You see I grew up in an amazing home where my parents put an INCREDIBLE emphasis on Christmas, the whole holiday season in fact! They went above and beyond by making Christmas magical, memorable, and filled with tons of anticipation and suspense for Santa. I think I believed in Santa until I was 12, and even then, I still wanted to believe thinking that just maybe, he really was real and not believing might cause me to miss out on that special gift!! My parents did a fantastic job of creating suspense, buying that special gift and instilling the most amazing family traditions during the Christmas season…and did I mention my birthday is Christmas Eve?!! That made it even more special. Christmas Eve was filled with family gatherings, carol singing and other special moments that I carried with me into my adult life.
There is a problem though, I left home. Let’s face it, things change right?! Especially when you get married… experiencing traditions shifts to creating your own family traditions, and I suggest reading this article found on our ministry page that speaks about the importance and blessing of intentional family traditions! When things change, we feel loss and not being able to recreate our childhood can also create that feeling of loss.
I think my real “depression,” even to this day, comes from the disillusionment of Santa. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not here to bash Santa…but I am the direct result of what might have been an over emphasis on Santa. Yes, I was also raised in a Christian home where Jesus was loved and worshipped, but if I am truly being honest…I think with so much emphasis on Santa as a child, I replaced Jesus with Santa.
You could say that I essentially “worshipped” Santa, presents and family gatherings.
Are all these things bad? Of course not! But as I reflect I notice something about myself that I hope to correct in and for my own children…the need to worship, adore and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus! Last year I wrote an article on this as well…please feel free to read it here. But obviously I still have some progress to make as I struggle with the emotions and childhood feelings that infringe on what I know is the real meaning of Christmas, and cause of our celebration.
A “new” family tradition that my husband and I created for our family is the “3-gifts” only tradition. Since Jesus received three gifts from the 3 wise men (gold, frankincense and myrrh), our children receive only 3 gifts each from us (something they want, something they need and something to encourage their spiritual walk with Jesus). We carry on the tradition of “Santa” by reflecting on this amazing and generous heart of a Saint, a man who knew the love of Jesus and wanted to share it with others, through the tradition of stockings. But my heart is still struggling and my emotions are an up-and-down roller coaster ride that leaves me in a pit that seems, at times, very low and miserable...rather “Grinchy”!
So, why am I sharing all this? Why doesn’t my story have this “Happily Ever After” ending? I really want it to, but I am still on my journey and want to encourage any of you who are feeling similarly to keep exploring your emotions to see it for what it is…what I feel it is…the effects of growing up and putting all your hopes and dreams, and magic of Christmas in the wrong direction…Santa, presents, and family gatherings!
As I open up my heart to God, refocussing on my need for Jesus; getting my needs met, finding my hopes and dreams fulfilled in Him, I experience the true meaning of Christmas and the sole remedy for my holiday blues! In fact, no matter what we have lost in our lives, or what the cause of our Christmas sadness might be, the good news of Jesus supersedes it all – if we let it. It does take time, so be patient and gracious with yourself.
Merry Christmas everyone…may you find your true fulfillment in Jesus and share it with your family (especially as you raise your kids) so that they have a healthy and fulfilling perspective on what Christmas is truly all about. Raise them to find the magic of the season in the right place avoiding getting caught up trying to re-create their childhood or thrive off of the magic they create for their own children.
May you be blessed this Christmas Season with a incredible and deep awareness of who Jesus is, and the love and salvation He offers. There is no greater joy or celebration!