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Battling the Holiday Blues

Melanie stands alone in the church’s foyer as animated conversations flow around her. It seems everyone has holiday plans: parties, trips to family, shopping excursions, and lots of “together time” with others. Melanie heads out the door to her car, exiting alone again, to go home to her canned soup, her cat, and her big screen TV. Her ride home from church is spent reciting to herself her hatred for this time of year.

Holidays contain those special elements of family, treasured memories, shared history, food, opportunity for laughter, and special moments for reconnecting with loved ones. But for some, holidays are a painful reminder of an unwanted solitude, rejection, lost dreams, broken relationships, lonely nights, and unfulfilled longings.

The “holiday blues” may be more than just a sad season for you. If the holidays place a spotlight on your pain and plunge you into a debilitating depression, I want to encourage you to begin preparing now to intentionally counter the holiday blues.

Counter holiday isolation by blessing others! 

Thursday begins the holiday season with the annual Thanksgiving Day activities. If you have no plans for the day that includes others, consider a few options that will allow you to serve others this holiday season:

Reach out to others who may be spending the holiday alone. Are there any in your congregation or neighborhood who’ve recently moved to the area? Send out a dinner invitation. If you aren’t able to prepare an entire Thanksgiving meal, consider the many delivery or take-out options available. If those are unaffordable, try a different approach and prepare a simplified menu, or plan a group meal where everyone brings a couple of items.

Break the power of the holiday blues by ministering to others who are in need. 

Do you know other single people who typically spend the holidays alone? Invite them to a day of giving to others by asking them to serve with you at a local homeless shelter or nursing home on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s.

If your church isn’t involved with Operation Christmas Child, you just missed the deadline for this year, but check out the link and consider asking the leadership at your church if you could organize this ministry effort next year.

Contact your local prison facility and find out if the chaplain is aware of families you could minister to during the holidays. Some children will be spending the holiday season separated from their mom or dad, due to their incarceration—you could be the vessel of God’s love and grace in their lives this holiday season.

Try something “out of the box” for you!

Organize a caroling group (even if you can’t sing!). If you don’t know any local shut-ins or have any elderly neighbors, ask your church leadership for help in compiling a list. Seek out a few people with musical abilities (having a guitar player helps) and invite them to help you with this project.

Investigate local Christmas concerts or plays and invite some students from your church to attend one or more of these with you.

Invite a group to your home for an evening of pop-corn, hot chocolate, and games. Snacks don’t have to be elaborate or expensive, a welcoming home and friendship matters more than the food!

Above all else, turn from self-pity to sweet worship!

It is impossible to give an offering of praise and thanksgiving while attending your own pity-party. Isolation is hard. Loneliness can be brutal. Spending the holidays alone can bring on some melancholy crying bouts . . . but fight the temptation to go inward:

♥ Fix your eyes on the reality that lies behind every good and perfect gift.

♥ Fix your eyes on the One who will never leave you or forsake you.

♥ Turn your heart fully toward Jesus.

How will you be spending your holidays? If you’re typically alone, what suggestions do you have for battling the “holiday blues?”

One Comment

  • Darcie

    I have been on both sides of the street. There were many times in the past I was Melanie. There was this weight of depression, saddness, and lonliness that would fall upon me. It was so heavy and so lonely, and I was too embarassed to speak up. I had family that lived long distance that I couldnt go and see. I had friends local that cared for me, but didnt recognize I had no place to go for the holidays. The years of spending on this side of the street have helped me to recognize lonliness and superficial seasonal rejoicing in others. It encourages me to take time, search for the lonely, and reach out to them.
    Knowing in my heart that Christ loved me, that He pursued me always gets me through the holidays. Since embracing the Lord, He has surrounded me, and continues to bring others into my life. For me, I am thankful for this as I am a single female a long long way from home. I am thankful that I have been brought into a church body where the love of the Lord flows, where I have never felt like I was single.
    Mother Theresa was said,” The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine; the only cure for lonliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world dying for a puece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the west is a different kind of poverty-it is not only a poverty of lonliness but also of spirituality.”
    As christians, God calls us to love one another and to help one another carry their burdens. This is part of our daily walk. My encouragement to my brothers and sisters is to take time during the holidays to seek out those where holidays are a burden, and find a way to ease it. Taking time to do this can make a differance. Kind words and inclusions in activities can ease pain and suffering, renewing hope and joy.