The stockings are hung. The presents are wrapped. The tree is aglow with lights. The fire burns brightly as carolers sing. And mistletoe is just waiting for you and your special someone to enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year!”
Stop! Is this a Christmas movie we’re talking about? Because for many of us who are single or single again, it sounds like a fairy tale. Or a Hallmark card. Or someone else’s life.
Yes, many singles struggle during the holidays to find the joy and the jolly amidst the holiday rush and the holly.
What if you just broke up, or are recently divorced?
What if you can't afford to fly home for the holidays?
What if your family doesn’t gather—or you have no family to go home to?
And you feel lonely, sad, dejected or depressed.
Here are some tips and gentle reminders to help you not just survive the holidays, but maybe even to thrive:
Give and serve. Lucy in the Peanuts Christmas TV special was right. Charlie Brown was depressed and she advised him to get involved with the local community Christmas play. What can you do in your community to help others? Volunteer at a food bank. Help with a toy drive. Offer to baby sit while friends with children do their holiday shopping. Or, whatever moves you. Doing for others brings joy to them—and to you!
Connect. Ask a friend to have coffee or tea. Share your heart with a trusted friend so he or she can empathize and pray for you. Sometimes it helps to just get it out and talk about how you’re feeling.
Pray. Ask God to give you comfort and joy, and a sense of community. You never know what may happen to surprise you. One friend I know did not have any plans for Christmas Day. So she prayed and asked God for something to do on this special holiday. Then, just a few days before the holiday, she got an invitation to join a family she knew from church for their Christmas dinner and celebration.
Enjoy it anyways. So even if you get no offers. Even if you end up alone on Christmas, decide to enjoy it anyways! You can buy some special foods you like, or treat yourself to a favorite meal (just pick it up the day before since many restaurants are closed on Christmas Day). We have choices! Even if “home for the holidays” will not happen for you, you can choose to focus on what you do have—not on what you don’t have.
Focus on the true meaning of Christmas. You will find meaning and joy as you look to the true story of the birth of Jesus Christ: a baby, born of a virgin girl, who grew up to love and change the world. Amazing, but true, Love came down at Christmas—God WITH us. Emmanuel.
So what is the meaning of that first Christmas night?
Simply, He came to make everything right.
For the Child had a purpose in coming to Earth.
He came as a light and to give us new birth.
He gave us forgiveness and paid with His life.
What kind of love would pay such a price?
For death could not hold Him; He rose from that grave.
And freedom and life were the gifts that He gave.
No longer divided, no longer alone,
Because of His love the wall had come down.
Live free forever! O, what a gift!
Both now here on earth and forever with Him.
Wise men and angels followed Him then.
Wise men still seek Him, again and again.
Finally, remember who loves you. Love changes everything. So, whether you have the love of a good woman or man—or don’t—you still have different kinds of love in your life that can be cultivated and CELEBRATED all through the year. Like the love of family or friends or pets or neighbors or others.
And mostly, the love of a kind and generous God who is always there loving you—whether you feel it or not. Love came down at Christmas. For you. For me. On that you can rely.
Merry Christmas and blessings for an extraordinarily good New Year!
Jackie M. Johnson