Today is blog post #2 in my 12 blogs of Christmas series. First up, a Christmas card.
So today's Blog Topic is 'Celebrating Christmas in good times and bad.' Holiday's can be really hard when things aren't going so well. It is important for us to be sensitive to this fact. This year is a very happy time for our family. My daughter Sarah is coming home soon - she's been overseas for 27 long months and her service with the peace corps is over. It will be very joyful to have her home and back in the U.S. for good. It is also joyful because my son Eric will be home from college and my immediate family is happy, healthy and thriving. It seems 'easy' to celebrate Christmas in good times, but there is also temptation in these celebrations as well. Even though things are going really well, it's easy to worry about things. For instance there is significant political unrest in Ukraine this week. I could spend my days worrying about this and fearful that Sarah and Ivan won't make it home. I can worry about the job situation - will my job continue to be stable in 2015? Will Sarah and Ivan find work? So, even in good times, it's easy to let worry and anxiety overwhelm us.
It's also easy to get caught up in envy and greed at Christmas when times are good. I can look around at other families near me and think - I should make cookies that look like Martha Stewarts - or I should buy more gifts to go under the tree, or I should have liposuction so I look like a model. With all the advertising and marketing around me, I can feel like my life is not complete without _______ (fill in the blank!)
And I think it's much, much harder to celebrate Christmas when times are bad. As much as we can let things get out of hand with greed, jealousy and anxiety in good times, there are far worse things that come along with holidays when times are bad. When times are bad it's easy to be overwhelmed with grief, loneliness, fear and sadness. How hard it must be to see other families when you have lost a loved one. How hard it must be to see the advertising and marketing when you've lost a job and have significant financial challenges. How hard it must be to see people ice skating and walking around when you have a medical condition that leaves you unable to move around. I have not yet experienced a Christmas when I've faced these challenges but I'm sure it is very, very difficult.
So what should we do? Well, I think when times are good we need to avoid the temptations. We need to enjoy the moment and not worry and envy. We need to be realistic about our expectations and not try to out-do the others around us. And we need to be sensitive to those around us who are struggling, because not everyone is experiencing what we are.
When times are bad? Well, again I don't have personal experience with this, but I've heard one of the worst things you can do is isolate yourself. It's very tempting to do this - just stay home - not go to events - but that will only make it worse. If possible, even if you don't feel like it, I've heard its good to get out - be with people - and help others! And have hope! If you are facing a difficult time this Christmas, turn to God. Ask him to show you how to bring joy into your life even as you deal with ________. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback church has a number of great blog posts about being joyful in the midst of significant hardship - he should know. His son died this year from suicide. He won't say it's his best Christmas ever, but he will offer ways to find small joys in life without his son.
I hope whatever type of Holiday you are celebrating this year (good times or bad) you are able to see God's significant love for you and that God meets you where you are at.
Thanks for visiting today.