Not a Hallmark Movie: To Those for Whom Christmas is Hard

Not a Hallmark Movie: To Those for Whom Christmas is Hard

For many, Christmas is "the most wonderful time of the year". 

For many others, it is exactly the opposite. 

Somehow, we always talk about the joyful parts of the holiday season--the lights, the music, the presents, the decorations, and if you are a Christian like me, the fact that Jesus came to Earth to save humanity from their sins. All you have to do is turn the TV on starting November 1 to see literally everything dedicated to all of those things depicted in big-budget Hallmark fashion.

What you never see? What's never shown? Those for whom the holidays bring much pain and sadness. 

Every single one of us has had an incredibly hard year in 2020--I think that goes without saving. For some of us, those challenges have presented themselves in such a way that they are completely affecting our typical "Christmas spirit."

I'm not going to lie to you guys--I'm one of those people. My family and I have received several pieces of devastating news over the course of 2020 (who hasn't), but we received one in particular just two days ago that felt like a punch to the gut. That news, coupled with the inability to see family tomorrow, has made me not really care much this year.

I would be lying if I said that my Christmas spirit is intact. To be brutally honest, in large part I'm faking it for my daughter. 

I decided to write a very atypical Christmas blog post tonight, as I know I'm not the only one experiencing grief (any of the stages of that lovely un-friend) this holiday season. If you've been reading anything about Christmas at all this holiday season, I'm sure it was of the Hallmark variety of smiling, beautiful people in cheerfully decorated homes, surrounded by delicious, homemade baked goods and artfully wrapped presents. 

This post isn't that. 

Me? I'm sitting on my couch with a glass full of wine and a heart full of bitterness and sadness. My presents aren't wrapped, my Christmas breakfast isn't made, and my "Holiday Spirit" is all but nonexistent. 

I decided to write honestly for this blog post because I know it is what I would need to read from someone else tonight with how I'm feeling...and I thought, just maybe, there's someone else out there who needs the solidarity, too. 

Here's the thing: Christmas can be HARD. Maybe you lost a loved one, maybe you and/or someone you love is sick, maybe you are struggling financially, or maybe you also just received some really horrible news. Whatever it is, I'm writing to let you know three things:

1. You are not alone. 

2. It's OK not to be OK. 

3. Think about what you need to do to keep going. 

Let's break that down a bit, shall we?

1. You are not alone. 

Please know that Hallmark Christmases are Hollywood. It's fake. It's not real. While I'm sure you know that, sometimes I think it's good for someone to remind you of that. If you are grieving tonight, you are in good company. You are absolutely not alone in finding this season challenging. 

2. It's OK not to be OK. 

No one can tell you how to feel about the holidays. Remember that.

3. Think about what you need to do to keep going. 

What is your self-care going to look like to get through this season? Perhaps it is booking a (masked) massage on 12/26; perhaps it's treating yourself to something special that you've been eyeing up for awhile (#treatyoself), perhaps it's a mini-vacation...figure out what it is that you can do right now to plan ahead for something that will help you get through tomorrow. I'm doing that right now currently--setting boundaries mentally to get through the next week--and, while it's certainly not fixing anything, I'm proud of myself for taking a stand for my mental health. 

Here's another thing, Friends...people love you. You are important. The world needs you in it, and you matter more than you realize. That's the whole point behind the arrival of Jesus, who is the whole reason for this entire season--you matter to God. You matter to others. And, just in case, I'm sounding preachy, please know that Christians don't have it all together. I'm grieving horribly this year too, even though I know the meaning behind the glitz and glamour of the season. 

Once again, no matter who you are, where you are in life, or what you are grieving if you are hurting this Christmas...it's OK not to be OK. 

For those of you reading this who ARE ok this holiday season...check on those in your life who might not be (I've got to send a huge shoutout to Anna, my parents, Kim, Tanya, Nikki, Lindsey, and of course my husband for speaking words of life into my heart when I literally couldn't function this week as I thought through hard next steps. You guys are gifts from God). You absolutely never know how much something only you can say can speak into someone's life in a unique way (special thank you here to Tanya). 

The bottom line of all of this, Folks, is that it can be SO hard to feel anything other than bitterness when everyone around you is not only celebrating, but expecting you to celebrate and be OK too--and the holidays are prime time for that. 

If that's where you are tonight, I raise my glass to you. I love you. I look forward to (God-willing) a brighter 2021 with you. My personal email is emilykenniston@gmail.com, and I'm ALWAYS here if anyone wants to drop me a personal line and vent. Please know that if you feel alone, a shoulder to vent upon is a click away. 

And, from the bottom of my heart, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

Let's stand strong together. 

With love, 

-Em <3




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