I am so pumped about the holiday season! It’s literally my favorite time of year! I LOVE everything about it. I’m sure many of you can agree with me that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year! *cue music* I am even more excited because this is mine and Brad’s first holiday season together! I can’t wait to make traditions that we will pass on to our kids, bake in our kitchen, decorate our first home, etc. I’m just super pumped about it all!
Although I’m super excited about the holiday season vastly approaching, I also kind of dread it. It’s overwhelming, busy, stressful, and makes you feel like you have to be perfect, or close to it. The comparison game can be at an all time high this time of year. But that’s not what I dread. For those of you who are new around here, my parents are divorced. The holiday season is a constant reminder of that. My parents are very civil and it’s never an issue and I’m extremely thankful for that. But with me getting married, it’s not Christmas with my family and his…it’s Christmas with my Dad, then my mom, and then Brad’s family. It’s exhausting.
I know I’m not the only one who has things like that which make the holidays a little harder. I also lost my Pampaw (Dad’s dad) in 2012 and every year we go visit his grave and leave some flowers as a Christmas gift. We cry and we tell him how much we miss him. That is another reminder that he’s not around. The holidays seem to amplify the things we don’t have, used to have, or wish we had.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m sharing these intimate details of my life. I’m sure you’re wondering how this post started out so bubbly and now it’s…sad. There’s a reason. There’s a point. The holidays, while great for some, can be a really hard time for others. They remind us of loved ones we’ve lost, jobs we’ve lost, people we miss, traditions we don’t have anymore, how things used to be, what we wish we had, how much money we don’t have…you get my point. There are so many things that I could list.
I’m sharing this so that we can be aware. I’m sharing this so that we can offer comfort to those around us who may be battling something similar. I can’t count on my hand how many people have told me how hard this time of year is, whether they just went through a divorce, don’t have a good relationship with their kids anymore, lost a loved one, are currently battling a chronic illness, or recently lost their job and couldn’t give their family the Christmas they wanted.
Be mindful while you’re celebrating, posting all your selfies in your Thanksgiving outfits, stuffed bellies, watching football with your family that not everyone has that luxury. Be more than kind to those around you. You will never be able to truly understand what they’re facing. They need kindness, love, and someone to help them be thankful this season.
How to be Thankful when it’s hard
- Start small. It’s really hard to think BIG things when you’re hurting, upset, frustrated, etc. So, start out with the small things, such as being alive, having a roof over your head, having clothes to wear, etc.
- Think of things that bring you joy. Things like sunsets, a warm cup of coffee, the feeling after you eat a really good meal, when your favorite song comes on the radio, or even the feeling after a really good nap. These things can bring a sense of calmness and make it seem a little easier.
- Surround yourself with positive people. If you are surrounded by negative people, you aren’t going to choose thankfulness. You must surround yourself with people who are going to talk positively, encourage you, build you up, and build others up around them.
- Notice the things around you that mean the most to you. This can be anything from a job, a significant other, a parent, a friend, a pet, a place you like to go, or a thing you like to do. When we shift our focus to start noticing the things around us that we are grateful for, the spirit of thankfulness becomes easier. So maybe your grandparent passed away last year. But it’s brought you and your mother closer and you really appreciate her. Or maybe you lost your job but your spouse has been extremely supportive through that process.
- Find something to be thankful for each day. Fix your mind to look for things to be thankful for each day. Things like what’s listed in number 2. Maybe someone smiled at you today and you really weren’t having the best day but it made you smile.
BONUS: Know that your feelings are valid and that it’s okay to not be okay, especially during the holidays!
I hope this offers you some practical ways to aim for being grateful this season, despite how hard it can be. I also want you to know that I get it and I’m praying for each of you that read this post. Luckily, the reason for the season isn’t about the gifts, food, decorating, or even time spent with others. The reason for this season is to celebrate the Saviors birth. To choose to be thankful that our God saw us worth dying for so He sent His only Son to die for you and I. I pray that knowing that offers you some encouragement during this season and that you’re able to focus on that truth.