It’s the most wonderful time…...of the year…….. Is it?
Mom insists that you have Christmas dinner in the afternoon—which just happens to be the only time Dad and his girlfriend can meet with you. But your husband’s stepmom’s kids are only in town Christmas afternoon because their father has to be with his wife’s kids on Christmas morning and drop off his other kids at their mother’s house the same morning.
We can’t move someone to Christmas Eve because we’ve celebrated Christmas Eve at Grandma’s for decades, but her new husband’s kids can only meet Christmas Eve so she won’t be available there, but wants us to meet his family at their place. However, your husband’s step-grandfather on his mother’s side……Bah, humbug! Let’s close the shutters and reopen them on January 1st.
Years ago I wrote an article called “I Hate Christmas” and was amazed by the response. People shared that they couldn’t wait for Christmas to be over and didn’t enjoy it at all due to crazy family dynamics—and this included Christians. Imagine, hating the season of our Savior’s birth!
I admit I was one of them years ago, but three things helped.
1. Refocusing on the true meaning of Christmas. In A Charlie Brown Christmas an exasperated Charlie Brown asks, “Does anyone really know what Christmas is all about.?!” Linus replied.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2: 8-14
Christmas is not about being at 8 different places the same day, or gifts, or hams and greens, or a tree, or even singing carols. It’s about Jesus coming here to die for us so we could have our sins forgiven, serve Him, and live eternally with God. When everything flows through that truth, the craziness in our hearts and minds dies down.
2. Deal with the divorce-related issues that frustrate, disappoint, and anger you. Once I started learning how my parents’ divorce was still impacting me (particularly during the holidays), I was able to pray through those issues, seek counsel, and start taking control of the holidays. Basically, taking action instead of reacting (or overreacting). Choose a Better Path: Overcoming the Impact of Your Parents’ Divorce is a user-friendly book (audio and eBook) that helps uncover the real issues so you can effectively deal with them. This is one Christmas gift that could break a generational cycle of divorce.
3. Apply holiday boundaries: protecting your family. While trying to please parents, stepparents, and ex-stepparents, my family suffered. Jesus said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” Matthew 19:5. In order to put my family first, boundaries had to be established. However, those boundaries need to be created in love and not anger—which is why this is the third step. The first two steps must come first.
Henry Cloud’s “Boundaries” book is an excellent tool for learning how to create effective boundaries.
For me, implementing these steps brought back perspective, joy, and anticipation instead of dread and hate for the season. With God’s help, this is possible for you too. Start now for next year!
Peanuts Christmas Panorama by Kevin Dooley