Many of us are feeling sad and lonely this year. It’s been hard to wear masks and isolate ourselves from those we love and care about. I don’t think we ever imagined this virus would still be keeping us apart all these many months later.
We’re being asked to forgo our traditional holiday celebrations and gatherings and avoid travel. In many ways, it feels like we’re being asked to skip the best part of the holidays altogether . . . if we have to spend Christmas alone.
I’d like to tell you a story…
It was our 10th Christmas as a couple, our 7th since we were married, and our 4th with little ones.
Rev and I both remembered happy Christmas gatherings spent with parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. And even after we were married and moved to St. Louis . . . we still traveled home to Michigan or Ohio to celebrate with family each year.
Did you know that pastors and their families are expected to be at church with their congregations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? It’s true. Go figure!
That particular year when we couldn’t travel home and neither of our families could come to visit us. So, for the first time, we celebrated Christmas alone as a family of four.
We enjoyed a wonderful time worshipping with our church family both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And happily opened Christmas stockings before church and gifts under the tree after. We dined on our favorite foods and it seemed like all was well.
Until our festivities were over and the day quieted to a slow non-celebratory pace. It wasn’t long before being alone at Christmas gave us the blues.
We knew Rev’s four siblings were all celebrating together at his mom’s. My brother and parents were together in Michigan. And we weren’t with any of them. All the things we were missing overwhelmed our thoughts and well . . . we were sad and lonely.
As the afternoon wore on and we started talking about how we were feeling, the Lord gave us a nudge that changed everything.
We packed the kids into the car and drove to The Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois. They do a beautiful display called The Way of Lights . . . acres and acres of white light displays that told the Nativity Story.
That year they also had a puppet show in the Visitor’s Center.
A musical celebration of Christ’s birth and what it means to us. Rev and I sat in the back row watching our four-year-old daughter and one-year-old son with smiling faces aglow watch puppets sing and dance to songs like:
What Can We Give to the King?
I Will Shine, I Will Sing
Can’t Help Peekin’
Gift of Love
It’s a Great Day
And suddenly our hearts were full.
Rev and I looked at each other and almost simultaneously wondered, “How in the world can we be sad? We are so abundantly blessed.”
How to Have a Wonderful Christmas
When You Have to Be Alone
God had given us His “still” voice nudge that whispered the importance of why we celebrated . . . of what was most important. You see we had gotten caught up in what we thought our holiday celebration should be—how we believed it was supposed to look and for a short time we’d glanced away from the true source of our JOY.
It’s easy to think Christmas is about sharing human love (just look at any Hallmark movie or Christmas novel). But although that’s not wrong it’s not enough.
You and I exchange love with family and friends because we’ve been given the gift of Love.
Love the Father has given to us. Love in the form of Jesus. Love expressed in mercy and grace. Love that covers our faults with forgiveness and makes it possible for us to look beyond loneliness and sadness with full hearts. Love that makes it possible for us to look out with love instead of in with selfishness. To see what we have rather than focus on what we don’t.
The Father through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit give us love to celebrate Christmas alone or with a house full of people. Because it’s not about us. It’s not about me and it’s not about you either.
Christmas is about God the Father loving the world so much that He gave us Jesus…
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:9–101 John 4:9–10
Christmas is about Jesus loving the world so much that He lived, suffered and died, and rose again…
So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.1 John 1:14
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.1 Peter 3:18
Christmas is about the way the Holy Spirit loves the world so much that He gives us everything we need each day…
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.Galatians 5:22–23
That Christmas was the first of many we spent alone, but it was the only one where we felt sorry for ourselves. From that year on we remembered that Christmas wasn’t about us because…
Christmas alone or together is about Jesus!
But this is the amazing thing . . . for our loving God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—Christmas is about us. It’s about giving you and me a Savior to forgive us and save us from our pity parties and self-absorption.
God gave us His Gift of Love!
And He gave it to us to share with whomever we celebrate!
Why not start today to make plans with your immediate family. Make a list of things you can do to celebrate no matter who’s with you.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Take a drive to look at Christmas Lights.
- Make meal prep and clean up a fun family affair.
- Bake an extra batch of Christmas Cookies.
- Enjoy a Zoom call with extended family members.
- Have a family Christmas Carol sing-along.
- Enjoy a Christmas Movie marathon.
- Read your favorite Christmas book out loud.
- Play your favorite games.
- Go outside, look at the stars, and thank God for His creation.
- Count your blessings as a family.
I’m praying that even if you have to celebrate alone this year, you have a wonderfully blessed Christmas focused on Jesus, the Word made flesh, the One who is, was, and always will be full of unfailing love and faithfulness.
God bless you!
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