Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are history. Christmas lights are going up everywhere. You know we are in one of the best times of the year; it’s the Christmas season. Yet for someone you know, or maybe even yourself, it’s a difficult time of loss or uncertainty, which means it’s a life transition. Transitions begin with a loss, which brings grief with it. I don’t know the circumstances that you or the person you know is feeling. It could be the death of a spouse, parent or other loved one, maybe your marriage has ended, or is crumbling, it could be a season of unemployment, or maybe something else. It doesn’t matter what has caused it, but your energy to celebrate isn’t there. How do you celebrate in this unsettled season?

Don’t minimize the loss, it’s real. Don’t put off your grief or try to suppress it, it won’t help. Yet amid all that’s hard in life this season, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate. While there isn’t a recipe to follow, I’ll share some things that you should consider.

  • Acceptance – Have you accepted that you couldn’t control what happened, wondering if there was something you could, or should have done? You can’t change the past or what happened. Without acceptance you can’t move forward. While life may feel out of control, remember you do control your reaction. You can embrace this season and not let circumstances dictate what you do and how you celebrate.
  • Be an exampleWhether you like it or not, others are watching you, wondering how you react. They know it’s hard, they don’t want you to fake it, but if you avoid everything, you are saying to others when life gets difficult hide and avoid people. Participating in family traditions of the holidays may help make an abnormal time in your life feel more normal and they may also trigger sadness which is part of grieving. Since this season feels different consider finding new ways to celebrate, something you haven’t done before. There aren’t any rules on how you celebrate, just celebrate. Be an example of how to deal with life’s difficulties.
  • People need youYou probably have no idea how many people need and want to see you. You’re important to them, they care about you, they want to be with and support you. They may not know what to say to you, but silence doesn’t mean they don’t care. Yes, you’ll get questions about how you’re doing and want to scream “how do you think I’m doing?”, as well as advice you didn’t ask for. Accept these as signs of care for you.
  • Accept being lovedYou may not feel “lovable”, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be loved. The holidays will give you an opportunity to show up, let others know while you’re hurting, you’re okay, and receive love from others. Most of us are better at loving others than we are at receiving love from others. Right now, you need a little “extra loving” from friends and family, and yes hugs too. It’s hard to receive and feel loved at a distance, which is why showing up is important.
  • Do for othersThe holiday season is about giving, and the greatest gift you have isn’t money, it’s yourself. Seek out opportunities to help others by volunteering, e.g. ring the Salvation Army bell, serve at a food pantry, etc., help a family member or friend in need. In doing so you’ll gain perspective (others have it hard too), it’ll lift your spirits by giving and may even put a smile back on your face (even if it’s only for a few minutes).

Try to celebrate in your own way, as we prepare to celebrate the greatest gift, our Savior’s birth.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

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