I don’t know about you, but there is something about the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. For some of us it is a hopeful, fun time as we look towards the coming year. For others, it is a time of regret from Christmas or simply going through the motions from the holiday.
Some call it the Christmas blues, others chalk it up as getting older. But they are real feelings.
I came across this quote a few years ago, and I feel like it encapsulates what a lot of people feel around Christmas (I can’t remember where I found it):
Christmas Eve. The perfect picture of anticipation: sleepless excitement for something we’ve been waiting for all year. Every year on December 24, my parents let us open a present. This was a teaser, a taste of things to come, and we kids relished it. Of course, it wasn’t much of a surprise – my mom always got us new pajamas, even when we didn’t need them. But still, it was a ritual of hope, one in which we celebrated the gift of giving and the joy of gratitude. Christmas morning. An unfortunate picture of disappointment. I am obviously only one person with his own set of experiences, but as I talk to others, I find similar feelings of frustration. As they get older, many people seem to develop a general distrust toward any day that promises to fill the emptiness they’ve felt all year long. This explains the rise in suicides during this season and why, for some, Christmas is a reminder of the inevitable letdown of life. The unfortunate answer to the question, “Did you get everything you wanted?” is, of course, no. And we feel terrible about this. Why can’t we be happy? Why can’t we be satisfied? Will we ever be content with what we have – with the gifts in our stockings, the toys under the tree? Why is there this constant thirst for more?
As I thought about it today, I started to wonder if we set ourselves up for failure leading up to Christmas. Christmas in many ways can be like a wedding and the letdown afterwards on the honeymoon. Follow me for a second. All of this pressure, build up, energy, stress, thinking and money go into Christmas and a wedding. Then it’s over. The parties, the gifts, family, friends, the tree, decorations, cards, Christmas specials, church services, and meals are over. Then we sit around looking at our gifts, watching our kids play with them and get tired of them and play with them some more.
You wake up on December 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th or 30th and wonder, “What now?”
Here are some things that came to mind as I prayed through this feeling for me that might be helpful for you:
Stop and take a breath. Slow down. December is a mad sprint for most of us. You went to more parties than you can count and ate more calories than you care to remember. You are tired. Take a break. Maybe take a nap. Read a good book, spend some extended time in your Bible. But give some time to slow down. Stop rushing. Sit down.
Get moving. As important as it is to sit down and take a break, it is equally important to get moving. Not in the way you did in December but moving around. Sitting around your house can be depressing after Christmas. You need to get out, take a run, a long walk, or a hike. Exercise. Get moving. I love to take a walk and listen to some good worship music (here’s my favorite playlist for that) and connect with God in creation.
Say thanks. Be thankful for what you have. Remember, someone is grateful with less than what you have. You may not have as much as someone else, but you have what God has seen fit to give you right now. Also, you may not see the next Christmas, or someone you just celebrated with may not see the next Christmas, so savor the moments. That isn’t meant to be depressing but a challenge to enjoy and savor what you have and what you’ve experienced. Take a little longer in those hugs or laughs or cries. We rush through Christmas and miss these moments, and then when family is gone and life is back to normal, we miss them.