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?”