Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Not so Ho Ho Ho?

I am a morning person, one of those wide-awake, cheery souls who greets the day, often before the sun comes up. As a teacher, it served me to rise at 4:30 to have 2 ½ hours to wake up and get organized before school.

 My experience indicates that few 17-year-olds are morning people. When I would greet my students at 7:20, I was smiling but I consciously tramped down the cheery demeanor. It’s hard to take sunny before your eyes adjust to the day. 

So here I am, moving into this holiday season and my heart is overflowing with joy. It’s a gift God has afforded me at a time when, according to Google, I should be depressed and teary. It was at this time, last year, that Mike could no longer disguise that cancer had come to call with pain and weakness and, at long last, a trail to the end. He is at peace and whole now, and God has gifted me with peace and happiness. 

When people ask me how I’m doing, depending on who asks, I tell them I’m just a little joy bell. It’s a great way to celebrate the birth of our Lord. However, we all know that for some people, the holidays are especially difficult. Bright lights, music, and parties all announce that we are to be HAPPY. Happy happy happy. And for some people, who are sad, lonely, depressed, or facing difficulties, the festivity of each street corner makes their mood even worse. Confront by a joy bell, they might want to smack it away.
It seems to me that we’ve ramped up the season from pre-Thanksgiving through New Years Day with unreasonable expectations of what these days should be and must be. Then, collectively, many of us try to live up to this, fall short, and then wonder what’s wrong with us. 

Thanksgiving, which now starts before Halloween, is ‘supposed’ to mean a big family meal where the throng sits around a loaded table, laughing and loving each other and, of course, there's the food. But let’s face it, sometimes you get to spend significant time with some relative that you don’t care for. (note to my relatives: NOT I) Then there’s the overeating and the belly aches and the oh-no-look-at-the-bathroom-scale next day.

On to the Christmas season, which includes public fights over Nativity Scenes and Christmas music; we get pressured into parties and gift giving, spending more money than we should; behind every door is more and more sugar; we gain MORE weight; and, here in the Midwest, it’s the weather:  cold, gray, colder, grayer…and maybe a little snow.

Now, for those unburdened with trouble, it’s all ok. In my case, God keeps showing me how blessed I am. There’s beauty all around us. And, for the Christian, we can meditate on how our God became flesh and dwelt among us. He was born, He died, He rose, He saves. Glory to God on the Highest. Lyrics of memorized Christmas carols strum the strings of my heart.

Way back in June, I gave audience to what I would do during the upcoming holidays…you know, the ‘first ones’ without my dear husband. Although Mike and I weren’t all that sentimental…we never made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve…I did wonder what this season would be for me. As it turns out, wasted energy. At my house, all is calm and all is bright.

However, when I considered that I might find the holidays difficult, I had hatched a plan, a pretty good plan, in case I found myself in a funk. It’s good advice for anybody when he finds himself feeling low.

Sometimes, we really do need a pity party; we deserve a pity party and should have one. I would suggest, though, that while it’s OK, one can go ahead, feel sorry for whatever warrants it but set a timer. Or an alarm clock. 30 minutes or 30 hours is a good time frame. When the time is up, you should go and wash your face with cold water, dry off and get busy.

I had planned to go to our local Rescue Mission and dish up dinner for those who are alone during the holidays. Or visit someone in an assisted living center. Or be open to other ideas. The best way to shake the gloomies is to help someone who has it worse than you. And, I believe we can ALWAYS find someone who has it worse than you and I do.

So, that’s my suggestion for anyone who is blue during the holidays. You’ll do something good for someone else. Ring a bell. Wrap a present. Smile more than you don’t. You’ll see your problems in a clearer light. And before you know it, we’ll be in January when the tinsel and colored lights disappear.


  1. So glad to hear you are doing well and have a heart full of joy. You've given some great advice here too! I hope others who struggle with the holiday season will see your post and heed your insightful advice.

  2. Me too, glad to hear of your joy. My business is giving me fits, but otherwise, doing okay. Merry Christmas.

  3. I have decided that finding your blog is my first Christmas gift of the season. Your quiet joy comes from a good place. I hope it is enhanced in the sharing. It's a virtual "Rescue Cottage" ;o) Merry Christmas, Lynn.