Holiday Blues
T. Suzanne Eller

"There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right." Psalm 106:3 (NLT)

"I don't like the holidays," I whispered.

I used to love holidays. Before I was married. Before I felt the pull to be everywhere at the same time. Before any decisions that I made left someone upset or angry or feeling left out.

I struggled with a desire to be home, to start my own traditions with my young children and husband. We were the first to be married in both families, and thus the first to break "how it's always been."

Thanksgiving was a time to be thankful. All I felt was stretched thin. Christmas was a time to be joyous but I usually felt frustrated.

As we had children, I tried to mask my frustration with enthusiasm. We had fun setting out pumpkins. We decorated the house. But inside I wrestled because I knew what was coming.

Looking back, I wonder why I didn't say anything. Instead, I simply let it fester. I didn't take into account that if I kept silent things would never change. I just simmered in anger.

Deal with others, but do what is right.

Thirty years later, I treasure the holidays. It took time, but we finally learned to share our needs. "Trying to be everywhere in such a short time is exhausting," we said.

We began by trying to see other's point of view. An empty nest left gaps that traditions used to fill. We didn't approach in anger, but with a willingness to work through the conflict with honesty and grace.

Some were open. Others were not, especially in the beginning. If they were flexible, we rejoiced. If not, we didn't take it personally. Change takes time.

Perhaps the greatest gift that we received came later. When our children married, suddenly there were several families in the mix. We told our children that it's not the date on the calendar that makes holidays special. It's the heart behind the holidays. It's spending time with people you love.

So, sometimes we get together on Thanksgiving, or maybe the week after. Maybe it's Christmas only, while Thanksgiving is spent with other family members. If they aren't with us on a specific day, my husband and I fill that time with a new tradition--just the two of us.

What we discovered is that by letting go, they come more often because there's no pressure. They let us in on their traditions. Regardless of the date, when we do get together it's so fun! It's a gift.

Maybe you've been singing the holiday blues. What is one step that you can take to change your tune?

Dear Lord, thank You for my family. I'm grateful for so many things, and one of those is family who loves me enough to want to be with me. Help me to share my needs with my loved ones, and to do it with grace and gentleness. Help me not to take it personal as they struggle with change. If I am the one that is inflexible, help me to bend and grow. Help me to be thankful every day for all that I have been given. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Suzie’s blog where she is doing a “Holiday” give-away!

The Mom I want to be: Rising above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future by T. Suzanne Eller

25 Days, 26 Ways to Make this Your Best Christmas Ever by Ace Collins

Click here for great ideas of how you can include others who may be in the same boat as you!

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Application Steps:
Have you shared your needs? Articulate them on paper.

Share them at the right time, in the right attitude.

Don't take responses personally. Change takes time.

Exchange the holiday blues for a new song. Worship God as you thank Him for all the good things around you.

If I am the one struggling with change, am I willing to be flexible?

Instead of focusing on a specific date, I can focus on the heart of the holiday.

I'll write down all the things for which I am thankful to share with my children.

Power Verses:
Psalm 106:1-2, "Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for his is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise him enough?" (NLT)

© 2010 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Charlotte said...

I so agree with this devo! We make ourselves nuts by decreeing that family events must be wonderful, full of fun and only land on certain days of the year! If you open up your options you are able to have wonderful times with family and friends and the number on the calendar does not have to rule your life! May God give us the grace to see that family is important, not the schedule!

Anonymous LivewithFlair said...

I'm wondering if some of our holiday blues come about because we aren't truth-tellers. We aren't honest with ourselves or our family members because we don't know how to tell the truth about our experiences with family. I love your perspective on doing what it right. I'm praying about bringing things into the light with my family and figuring out how to have peace and freedom in our relationships. Thanks!

Blogger Unknown said...

This is great! This Thanksgiving I shed tears as I thought this could perhaps be the last one with all my children still living at home. I am one that would normally let the number on the calendar rule - because that's how it's always been. I will let go of that in order to make it easier on my girls as the venture out on their own. Thank you!

Anonymous Suzie Eller said...

Oh Denni, you just made my day! Love the transformation in your thoughts about holidays and family. You rock!

Anonymous Barb said...

i read your message today with a smile on my face. My children were young during my divorce, so i had to make lots of adjustments.Christmas was when i had my son & daughter with me-no matter when or where it was. Many years, Christmas came early & then they were with their dad for weeks.I always said that anything after they left was "frosting on the cake" of Christmas.It wasn't easy to develope that attitude-but when I did,I was thankful & blessed by the Christmas experiences that I had with or without my kids.God is so good when we look to Him to find his peacce & joy.

Blogger Kelsie said...

Our Thanksgiving celebrations were different this year, and I was struggling with the change. Thank you for this devotion!

So precisely what I needed TODAY. Thank you for allowing the Spirit to speak through you for me in this. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole christmas-blues issue is on my mind this year. I feel the stretched thing too. I feel like so much of what my immediate family does for christmas is about the expectation of others (mostly the grandparents on both sides!) and I feel that the past 8 years (4 kids later), the sparkle has rubbed off a little more each yr. Trying to make meaningful exchanges at christmas can be a stress. Thanks for this devotional, it is helping me think about how to approach this as a Christian woman who is also a mother, daughter sister, wife etc, to consider others needs and desires too. I will be honest with my own heart privately first and bring it all before Him who cares even about all the tiny stuff. Change does take time. Thanks this devotional is such food for thought for me this season.

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