Am I the only one who feels apprehensive as we head toward the holiday season? When we are hurting over our children the holidays can be such painful reminders of the things that are not right in our family.
The Thanksgiving and Christmas commercials that start earlier and earlier every year, depict happy and seemingly carefree families gathered around a table or decorating a tree together.
There is always light-hearted laughter and fun-loving teasing and the love and affection portrayed by the characters is not even close to what we are experiencing. In fact, for some of us it has been many years since we have been able to enjoy the holidays with the people we love the most.
Some of us know we won’t see our children this year. We have kids in prison or kids that want nothing to do with us. Some of us have kids that are out on the street and we have no idea where they are or if they are even alive. It’s especially painful when there are grandchildren involved. Precious grandchildren, our own flesh and blood, that we are not allowed to see. We are acutely aware of the time slipping by as we miss out on the kind of relationship with them that we long to have. They are getting older and they don’t even know us.
Some of us are raising our grandchildren because our kids are unable to care for them for one reason or another. As much as we love and adore them, we are getting tired and it’s hard to chase around a toddler or to deal with an adolescent or teen at this point in our lives. In addition to our heartache, we have the physical ailments that occur as we age. We are strapped financially because we are on a fixed incomes with no financial assistance from the parents. We try to fill in the best we can, but our hearts break for these grandchildren who deserve to have loving parents who are capable of parenting. We didn’t picture it like this.
Then there are those of us who anticipate that our child will show up for the holidays, but they usually bring drama and we are on pins and needles because we don’t know what to expect. We are worried about being judged by other family members . . . you know, the ones with the perfect kids. Instead of looking forward to having our child with us for the holidays we almost dread it because there are so many unknowns.
As hard and painful as these situations are, there are things we can do to feel better about the Holiday Season. For one thing, we can start a gratitude list. Even in our pain we all have things for which we can be grateful. Start today by writing down one thing that you are grateful for and then write another thing tomorrow and keep doing it every day until Thanksgiving when you can read over your list with a thankful heart as you look at the good things in your life.
Something else that can help us move away from feeling sorry for ourselves and stewing over our children and the holidays is to do something nice for someone else. Random acts of kindness can be as simple as writing an encouraging note to a friend, visiting someone in the hospital, talking someone out for coffee, baking cookies for neighbor, picking flowers from your yard to give to a co-worker. You’ll be amazed at how it will lift your spirits to do something thoughtful for another person. You can also volunteer at a non-profit organization in your community. There are lots of ways to serve others during the holidays and serving others has a wonderful way of lifting our spirits.
Let’s not forget that we have friends and other members of our families who are looking forward to the holidays and would love to have us celebrate with them. By focusing on the one who is hurting us we miss out on the love and good times that are available to us with our other kids, spouses, siblings, parents or good friends. Go ahead, make some holiday plans and be intentional about looking forward to the holidays with those who will happy to be with you.
Of course, spending time in God’s word and praying for our loved ones and for ourselves can make a huge difference in how we feel about the approaching holidays. God can make something beautiful out of even the darkest and ugliest of situations. We just have to allow Him to come close enough to help us. He can give us peace and joy even when we are hurting over our child. Open yourself up to His goodness and love. He is always the same and He will never let us down.
Yes, the holidays can be hard, but they don’t have to consume us with angst and misery. We do have some choices.
My prayer for every Hurting Mom is that we would embrace the season with gratitude and remember that we are not alone. We not only have one another, but we have a God who hears us, sees us, and knows our pain. His desire is for us to experience the joy of the season and He can and will help us if we focus on Him instead of the ones who are hurting us.
What is one thing you are grateful for today?