How do we reclaim the holidays as a time of joy?

Originally the word holiday meant a holy day set aside for worship. Later, holidays became days that you were exempt from work or school. However, for many of us the holidays are neither holy nor free from work. The holiday season can be a huge source of stress instead of a season of celebration.

How do we reclaim the holidays as a time of joy?


Reality check

Our first step is to embrace reality. We only have so much time, money, and energy. No amount of wishing will change our bank balance or our health. We can realistically consider our commitments and our resources.

To be healthy in January we may need to say ‘no’ to some things in November and December. Most people don’t like to associate budgets with holidays, but it is essential that we decide how much time and money we are willing and able to spend. Not comparing yourself with others gives you the opportunity to tailor your choices to fit your resources.


It is okay to say “No”

Determining how many parties you will attend and who you will give gifts to frees you from overcommitment, debt, and exhaustion. As you evaluate the opportunities, try to decide which are life-giving and God-honoring.

You have the right and responsibility to guard your time and choose activities that encourage and support you. If a Christmas concert draws you to worship and fills your soul, you can choose to attend that instead of something on the same night that would drain you. Finding a balance between obligations (I have to go) and opportunities (I get to go) will help you determine where to invest your time, energy, and money.


Control the chaos

The holidays can throw our calendars into chaos. We can struggle with the changes in their routines. It is tempting to set aside the rhythms and structures that provide comfort and stability.

Trying to maintain your rhythm of worship, exercise, and rest will go a long way to reducing your stress. Rember to set aside moments throughout your day to practice gratitude. Thanking the Holy Spirit for His gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) changes our focus from ourselves back to the Lord.


Ask for help

Sometimes the holidays remind us of unwanted changes in our lives: the loved ones that are no longer with us, the child that is far away, or physical limitations. These changes may demand that we celebrate differently.

My body will not allow me to do all the cooking and crafting that I used to for the holidays. When I ask for help with holiday tasks it allows me to spend more time with family members. I’ve learned that my family really doesn’t care if Costco “helps” out. I can choose to build new memories with family instead of working so hard that I am in pain.

Controlling what you can (having the second piece of pie) and releasing what you can’t control (traffic, snow days, Uncle Bob’s sense of humor) will help you enjoy the holidays.

Being gentle with yourself sets the standard for you to be gentle with other people.


Emmanuel – God with us

During Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We sing to Emmanuel – God with us. Despite that truth, you may not be able shake the “holiday blues.” Please remember that you are not alone – lean on your family members, your church, and the Holy Spirit.

We don’t have to hide our sadness or grief; we can bring them to the God who chose to be with us and give us peace. As the angels said to the shepherds, ““Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

Looking for help?

Connect with one of our Biblical counselors.

Want some free care resources?

Check out our Care Ministry resources page.


Related Sermon

Matt Rhodes

✍️ Credit | Lillian Dehn
Biblical Counselor

Matt Rhodes

🎨 Credit | Maddie Brouwer
Communications Coordinator