The question I’ll be answering in this post is one that is unfortunately pertinent to many – “Christmas is supposed to be festive. But instead of being happy about it and looking forward to it, I can’t wait for it to be done and over with. I don’t understand why.”
No wonder this is confusing. Christmas is described in songs and movies as the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time of celebrating, gifting, and all things festive. Beautiful decorations are everywhere – in every store and restaurant, parking lot and doctor’s office. Even the grocery store plays Christmas music while you shop.
Christmas is also a natural time for reflection and returning to your roots. Ideally, it’s about coming back home and being surrounded by people you love who also love you. It can even be a time of clarifying what matters to you so that your life begins to make sense and fall into place.
The reason Hallmark’s Christmas movies have expanded to two channels and now run almost continually from late October through Christmas is because that’s what we all want Christmas to be. We want to believe it is a magical and meaningful time.
And it is for some.
But for many, Christmas is the most painful time of the year.
There’s a very important reason for this. The reason this is so is because…
Christmas magnifies your reality.
The degree of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness you experience at Christmas is directly proportional to the degree of distance between your reality and your desires and expectations.
In fact, your expectations stacked against your reality will always determine how you experience a thing. This is true for any situation, whether it’s a holiday or a relationship or a career… or anything else.
And since Christmas is believed to be a wonderful, magical time that should warm the heart with love and joy, your experience of Christmas will be painful if it is anything short of those expectations. Because Christmas magnifies your reality. It brings your reality home.
If your life is filled with love and health and money enough to do and have what you need and much of what you want, then Christmas will be for you the most wonderful time of the year. You’ll likely spend time during the season reflecting on how blessed you are, because Christmas magnifies the reality of your blessings more than any other time of the year.
However, your reality may include illness, suffering, or the loss of someone dear to you. It may be defined by broken relationships. Your family may be at odds with each other. You may be estranged from your kids. Or maybe you have never known what real love from another person feels like. And as a result, you feel alone and unheard, unknown and unappreciated.
All your expectations – all those things you want out of life that you don’t have – become more obvious at Christmas. That void is more evident to you, and it feels like it’s more evident to others as well. It’s harder to run from it, ignore it, or fake it at Christmas… because Christmas is everywhere. That’s why Christmas can be so painful.
Mike and I are people of faith. We believe there are solutions to life’s problems. We believe in hope. And we believe Christmas should be – and can be – a hopeful, meaningful, healing time for anyone who is hurting.
The truth is that God loves you when no one else does. He loves you even when you don’t love yourself. He hears and understands you. He knows what you’re going through. This is also your reality. Allow yourself a chance to entertain this thought for a few minutes. And then I want to share something else that may help…
Another way of looking at your current reality is to see it as a story. In fact, it is not just a story… it is your story.
Your life is your story. And you are not only the main character in your story, you are also the author of it. You hold the pen – and the power – that will create the next chapter.
Your past is the part of your story that is already written. And whatever reality is causing you pain right now is truly nothing more than your current reality. Further, your current reality does not have to determine your future reality, unless you allow it to. Because your future is the part of your story that you haven’t yet written.
So if Christmas hurts, allow the pain you’re experiencing now to motivate you to change the future. Let this reflective season challenge you to take that pen in hand, so to speak… along with some hope in your heart and determination in your gut… and create a much more desirable and meaningful next chapter.
Remember this. You can’t change others. And you may not be able to change your circumstances, at least not immediately. But you absolutely can change your attitude. You choose your attitude. You choose what you focus on and the meaning you give your circumstances. And with a new attitude and a new outlook, you can also begin creating new outcomes.
You have the power to make this Christmas special right now – and therefore a lot less painful – by marking this as the time you decide to create a new reality for yourself.
And if you need some hope and belief that you can actually do such a thing… then may I offer to lend you some of both? I don’t know you, but I believe every person has a right to enjoy being who they are, a right to love and be loved, and a right to live a meaningful, rewarding life.
And that includes you.
So, if you need help writing the next chapter of your story, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. We’ll work together to create a year that will make next Christmas one you look forward to!
(Feature image by Mariamichelle)