Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. Those who know me will attest to that fact. I begin my holiday planning in October. I’m singing Christmas carols at the first hint of a fallen leaf! I start thinking about Christmas décor and holiday gatherings mid-year. I make lists of friends and neighbors that I’d like to bake some goodies for. I relish the day it turns cold, so I can bring out a scarf or sweater. (We Southerners don’t get much cold weather here, so we take every advantage of being able to pull out our boots and sweaters when it crests below 60 degrees!) I love hot cocoa and apple cider and the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin pie and apple pie and… well…you get the point!
But I also fully recognize that the holiday season can conjure feelings of regret or disappointment. Maybe the holidays serve as a reminder of a different time in your life or the hope of something that once was, but is no more. The Christmas season can bring both joy and pain. The laughter of children wrestling in the bedroom during their school break can also be peppered with tears of anger, as you reflect on a dad that isn’t there to hear it. I get it. I really do. I have had those same tears of joy and sorrow, anger, and laughter. I have sat in the bedroom alone on Christmas day, hoping someone would invite me to lunch. I’ve also sat in the home of someone who did invite me, fighting back the tears because I felt so sorry for myself and my children that their family wasn’t my family.
This time of year can also make me mad and sad, too. I’m sad that commercialism surrounding the Christmas season brings even more pressure to an already tight budget and a single mom who’s doing all she can to make ends meet. I’m sad that children will be without their fathers on this day due to death or a relationship that failed. I’m angry that some will choose to ignore their children on this special day. I’m sad that I can’t physically hug every single one of you who feels this way. But you and I have some choices to make this season.
Will we allow the joy of the Christmas season (or Easter or Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day or any other holiday for that matter) to be dictated by a past that didn’t shape up the way we planned? Will we allow Satan to lie to us and tell us no one cares or sees that we are forgotten and abandoned? Will we rehash the holidays of yesteryear, or will we determine to make new traditions with our family? Will we focus on lack or love? Will we choose to make today about the Savior of the world or the brokenness of the world?
This season is the season to end all seasons. It is THE season! Christ was born that we may be set free. Christ was born that we may celebrate eternity with the Lord. Christ was born that we – those who would otherwise have no hope – may have hope. His birth is our fortress, our reason for living. Christmas isn’t about the number of presents under the tree, or whether you even have a tree. It isn’t even about sharing the day with a house full of guests. It’s about choosing to focus on the sacrifice our Heavenly Father made and the immense love He has for each one of us that compelled him to send Jesus. Make today a celebration.
That celebration could come in a thousand different ways. If you are spending the day away from your children, make it a point to reach out to a friend to visit with. Choose to go to the nursing home or homeless shelter to visit with those who may be lonely. Spend the day in bed watching old movies. Journal 10 things that God has done for you this year. List all your hopes and dreams for your children’s future. Go outside and get some fresh air! Bake some holiday goodies. Sing Christmas Carols with the kids. Be creative. You have the choice to make this Christmas season the most memorable one you’ve ever experienced.
Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others.