Before the "Boo!" décor even leaves the shelves, the Christmas marketing starts to invade. The decked halls of Walmart bring flashbacks of flickering stoplights. Soon enough, "Let It Snow!" is on every radio station, even though it's 75 degrees outside. Then Netflix is polluted with a hundred versions of the same obnoxiously festive movie. There is no escape. And even if you usually look forward to Christmas, your "cheer" may be depleted by the time the day rolls around. I know that's how I've felt the last few years. I enjoy the time set aside for family, friends, and fun, but sometimes the holidays feel like déjà vu where the little things seem more annoying each year. Is there any solution other than "fake it till you make it?"
What causes "Grinch" syndrome? For some people, the sense of disenchantment reaches a point of total negativity. There are many valid reasons for resentment toward the holidays, including past trauma, loneliness, and stress. There's also the reality of seasonal depression. Sometimes getting by is hard enough without distractions that demand an uplifting attitude. So don't shame yourself or others for lack of Christmas cheer. However, we always have a choice to seek contentment. If this time of year brings you winter gloom rather than joy, it's helpful to sit back and depressurize.
You don't have to watch excitedly for snowflakes; you can still cozy up with a cup of cocoa. Take a moment to ask yourself, "What am I grateful for?" Even if there's only one thing that comes to mind, that is enough reason to take hold of your opportunities. The most important thing to remember is that Christmas is not really about twinkly lights and smiling faces; it's about the gift of love to a broken world. It's a celebration of the redemption we all can receive, despite the existence of evil. With that in mind, how can we think that Christmas is just for "happy" people? There are lots of ways we can use the Christmas season for good, even when we don't feel like frolicking around a Christmas tree.
Here are a few ideas:
Give back to a cause that's meaningful to you. Whether that's a specific organization, your church, or something more personal, the gift of giving isn't just for the receiver. You can find many options to give monetarily or with your time.
Create a "Grinch" group. If you know other people who aren't psyched for Christmas, you can come together to lift each other up in a unique way. Don't like Christmas music or parades? Plan a winter vacation or activity with a different theme. There's no rule that you have to apply the typical Christmas "package" to celebrate. What are the things that you and your friends care about? How can you acknowledge thankfulness for those things?
Take a step forward. If the reason for your Grinch-like attitude is because you feel stuck, then that feeling will continue through the new year unless you face it. Holidays are often unappreciated reminders of the passing of time, and that tells us we aren't where we wish we were. We can't always make things go the way we want, but we can make choices that move us forward. Sometimes that means making a change that we're afraid of, and sometimes that means finding contentment in where we are.
Perfectionism defeats the purpose. Are you one of those people who spend September through December picking out the perfect gifts and preparing for an Instagram-worthy feast? If so, I commend your enthusiasm, but you might need to take a breath. I've had plenty of experiences where the preparation for an event became a source of havoc for my nerves. In those situations, I always think to myself, "Isn't the whole point of this to have fun?" The whole reason we want to make Christmas special is that it symbolizes something wonderful to us. Do stress and superficial excellence make it special? No. If you have the opportunity to come together with family and make it a festive occasion, then that is a blessing to pursue. But don't let the idea of a picture-perfect day defeat the purpose.
Christmas is about every day because we have the freedom to choose grace and embrace our true selves. We should do the same on Christmas Day. Our worship should come from the heart, and that means we can get creative in how we celebrate. Don't miss out on the chance to share joy because you're focused on doing things a certain way. God loves the real you, and He wants you to glorify Him through your authentic praise.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.