When the Holidays are Hard by Carrie Flynn

My husband, daughter and extended family just spent four days at Disney World celebrating my daughters 6th birthday. Instead of being excited or anticipating this wonderful milestone, I was filled with dread.

December is always one of my least-favorite months, and it’s mystifying to me why: my birthday, my daughters birthday and Christmas are all in the month of December. Wonderful memories are made every year. Lots of fun activities done, sweets made, yummy dinners had. You would think I would be excited like Buddy the Elf.

And yet….here I am, anxiously awaiting January because December can sometimes be way too much.

I’m not sure when, but it dawned on me recently that I may not be the only one who struggles to make it through the holiday season with joy.

I always feel a sense of immense pressure during the holidays – financially, spiritually and personally – to make the most of this season. However, I end of up feeling incredibly overwhelmed and mad at myself when I don’t feel the sense of peace, joy and love advent offers….or when I don’t get all the amazing gifts my family wanted…or when I don’t accomplish the tasks I wanted to during our holiday break.

In addition, this can also be a difficult time personally for me. I have struggled off and on with depression for over ten years. Also, my parents divorced over thirteen years ago and I have been married almost ten years. My parents are both remarried, too. So, we have lots of different families and people involved in the holidays which can make things busier than they were in my childhood. Less simple, more complicated because: more people involved.

If I am honest, sometimes I think I over-beautify and look back wistfully at the holidays of my childhood…when it seemed simpler. But memories can sometimes lie to us. I am sure things weren’t so perfect back then, like I remember them to be. But, sometimes I find myself longing for a simple situation during the holidays.

One thing I know for sure: regardless of our situations…whether you, too, have a Brady bunch-esque family situation (like mine), or deal with depression, or have gone through a major loss where the holidays bring up so much pain…there is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

God can use this time of pain, sadness, frustration and overwhelm to teach us our own inability to rely on our own strength. He can use this time to bring us incredible comfort that only can come from Him. He may use this time to bring joy when it seems unimaginable to you.

Something God is working on in me during this season: focus your attention on me. Whatever you’re dealing with that is making this season less than joyful or full of love, may He draw you closer to Him during this time. May you be filled with His love and peace. May you realize you’re not alone.

Blessings and Happy Holidays, friends!

Carrie Flynn