I ask some wonderful ladies if they would be willing to share part of their Christmas with my readers. While my last post dealt with how I personally deal with the holiday blues, each person and situation is different.

Some struggle with perfectionism and the anxiety of depriving their children (and themselves) of that picture-perfect Christmas. Others feel the grief of an empty seat at the table more prominently this time of year.

HOLLY:

It’s totally OK to skip the holidays completely. Sometimes, especially in times of deep grief, the pressure of HAVING to do the holiday thing is actually detrimental. I think it’s so important for people to know that they are not alone in not being able to holiday, and why it’s totally OK – despite what anyone else thinks of their decision (that’s the important part). So many people will try to “snap them out of it” – the non-holiday mood – but instead, should really let the person simply non-holiday, if that’s what’s right for them that particular year.

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Holly experienced this deep grief first hand almost a decade ago, when her 20 year old daughter Lyssa lost her battle with cancer. Holly’s strength is one of the many reasons I feel blessed to count her as a close friend.

BETHANY:

I have extremely high hopes for Christmas every year and things don’t ever go as planned. This unrealistic fantasy forms in my head where all the Advent crafts that drive home the true meaning of Christmas will be balanced by the fun secular, seasonal activities.

My kids and I will make memories to last a lifetime and traditions will form! Only none of that has happened so far. I have anxiety and the knowledge of everyone’s kiddos getting viruses and flu’s prompt me to keep my family isolated from the fun and merriment outside.

This year we can barely afford presents for our kids or craft supplies, so the joy seems to diminish. I find myself saying “being an adult at Christmas is not fun.” or even blowing up during family fun saying “Nothing is going my way!” So I’m drawing near to God through reading his word. There is nothing new under the sun – there has always been suffering, hurt, pain, financial strain. He knows. And he used 2 young people (Mary and Joseph) to bring up his Son, which draws parallels to 3 Christmases ago when I brought our firstborn into the world at 19 years old when I had nothing but Him.

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I am comforted by the devotionals that lead me back through the Old Testament, prophesying and preparing a way for Jesus to come one day. And I sit in expectation of his coming this Advent season (and for the rest of my life.) It adds perspective and reaffirms our family choices to draw near to Jesus this season and reject materialism (even being seen as weird by extended family for not doing Santa). So basically I spend December putting up our hand-me-down decorations, wrapping our Target $1 spot presents for the boys, wiping down every surface of my home with Clorox, filling my family with vitamins and supplements…and all the while praying for contentment to see things like He does.

Read more of Bethany’s story on her blog That Hippie Friend.

Leading up to Christmas I hope to share a couple more stories those struggling through the holidays. My prayer is that by sharing, people who aren’t so cheerful could find peace, a way to cope, or perhaps even a spirit of joy this Christmas.

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