Disclaimer: If you have a close-knit, happy family and generally a good experience around holiday seasons you’ll probably want to plug your ears, lest I sound like I’m trying to fill your stockings with coal. But for those who are facing a less than satisfying holiday experience, they will hopefully come away feeling as if they have been stocked up on fine chocolate.
For a few years in the not too distant past, holiday seasons (and holidays in general) left me feeling sad, lonely, and disappointed. First there was the divorce where I had to share the kids. When all your dreams for your family are shattered, especially through a high conflict divorce, sharing your kids over the holidays proves very difficult. And it seemed as the kids grew up, holidays became increasingly complicated and disappointing.
Next, there was a huge breach in my family of origin. The once warm, happy crowd at my mom and dad’s house over the holidays went from thirteen of us, down to six of us (and sometimes only four). Add to that, after mom got cancer in 2004, our holidays became an effort at survival, not so much celebration. In fact, mom’s last Christmas with us (two years ago), we spent the entire holiday season at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota while she got radiation treatments.
Let’s not just pick on Christmas. When I was single, Valentine’s Day felt like a giant stamp on my forehead announcing my aloneness. Many birthdays have been spent with few people (except my mom) remembering. Mother’s Day has often been spent without my kids. In short, many a holiday has not been in my favor.
Do I say this to make you feel sorry for me? Am I groveling in a pity party? Quite the opposite! I want to share with you what has made a difference for me in the way I survive (and thrive) on all holidays these days. I came to the realization that, for me, disappointing holidays were merely a perspective problem.
You see, way back in the days of the OT, God established special holydays (as opposed to holidays) called “Feasts.” These special times were amazing celebrations full of love, laughter, and amazing hope! There’s a good chance that nobody was lonely or disappointed during the Feasts. Why? Because the 7 God-established Feasts were solely about celebrating God, not people. They were about focusing on His love for mankind, His incredible mercy, and His fulfilling, hopeful future plans for all His creation:
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Rom. 3:19–21).
A couple years back, God showed me that the reason I felt sad and lonely on holidays is because they are all man-made, and they ALL focus on man. Sure, Christmas and Easter advertise that they are about God, but at the heart, they were holidays established by men, and they are mainly about MEn—my decorations, my shopping, my family, my kids, my food, my games, my gifts, my birthday, my romantic interests, my celebration, my plans…you get the point. Though people say they are worshiping God, ultimately it is more about worshiping man-made traditions or there would not be such disappointment and sadness. I mean who could be sad or incomplete when focusing solely on the LOVE and provision of a Heavenly Father?
These days, I never feel sad during the holiday seasons. I remember about the Feasts—the Holy Days—and I focus on the heart of God and the plans He has for His creation. He is The Gift, He is my Family, my love interest, my Light, my celebration—He is enough.