Getting through Christmas feels overwhelming to many singles. In a sense, we feel as if we're being tested.
Do we look great? Is our home decorated to the hilt? Have we bought everyone the perfect gift? Have we forgotten anyone's gift? Are we the perfect party guest--or host?
Mix all that stress with the "Ghosts of Christmas Past" and you've almost got an excuse for staying in bed with the covers over your head from Thanksgiving to New Year's.
Like many singles, I have a tendency to catastrophize. I don't know if that's a real word, but it should be. I sometimes feel that if I don't please everyone 1000 percent, they're going to put me in front of a firing squad. Or at the very least banish me to Siberia, or Nebraska.
That's when I have to check myself and say, "Whoa! Let's be realistic." My relatives and friends are kind people. We don't try to outdo each other at Christmas. We don't expect Christmas presents to solve all our problems or make us deliriously happy for the rest of our life. We know how to put things in perspective.
I make my best effort to buy appropriate gifts, within my budget. I don't go into debt. I do the best I can, and that's good enough. Do you feel that way, or do you think your best just isn't good enough?
Part of getting through Christmas is being kind to yourself first, before you're kind to others. Cut yourself some slack. Don't expect to be everywhere at once. Don't make commitments you can't keep. And, most importantly, don't run yourself ragged trying to make it "a Christmas to remember."
Part of the overcommercialization of Christmas is putting expectations on us nobody can meet. What TV and magazines seldom say is this season is about people, not decorations, drinks, gifts, and food. It's hard for advertisers to make money from people just relaxing, talking, and enjoying one another's company. Glitter is nice, but what is really pleasurable is simply spending time together.
From reading the gospels, I have the impression Jesus encountered some people he didn't much like. The Pharisees come to mind. You may not have any Pharisees in your family or your business, but no doubt this season you'll be tossed in with someone you don't like. What should you do?
Part of being a grown-up is being pleasant when you don't feel like it. We've all had to resist the urge to snap at somebody when we had a headache or were under a lot of stress. You managed to control your emotions then, even if it was hard.
Getting through Christmas situations means holding it together…until. Until the party is over. Until the obnoxious relative leaves. Until you're able to graciously depart (Yippee! It's time to go home.)
This isn't hypocrisy. It's good manners. Remember: It's alway easier to keep your mouth shut and not say it than it is to try to apologize later. Nasty words can never really be called back.
You can do it. You really can. Don't make the situation worse than it is by blowing it out of proportion. Anybody can get through a couple hours, a day, or even a week if you don't look for opportunities to torture yourself.
Depression and loneliness are intensified this time of year. The loss of someone special or the vacuum of not being in a relationship can make you feel unloved and hopeless.
If you're a Christian, you know in your heart that's not true, but your feelings will try to convince you otherwise. In fact, they'll shout quite loudly that you have no choice but to be miserable.
Self-pity is like trying to climb a ladder without using your hands. You're bound to fall and hit hard. Rather than beat yourself up, turn the holidays into a personal challenge you know you can overcome.
You can get through this party. You can climb to the next rung. You can make it through the gift exchange. Another rung higher. You can enjoy the lights and decorations rather than feel sad. You can do it. I've done it, and so can you.
You're stronger than you think, smarter than you give yourself credit for. If you're mindful and check your emotions before they run wild, getting through Christmas will be easier than you think.
Ironically, we can't get through the single life alone. We have to have Jesus. If you're not a Christian, you may be sick of me talking about this, but on this site I tell you what has worked for me for 40 years. It's the truth as I have experienced it.
Like any difficult situation in life, the Christmas season can be endured when you have Jesus to help you get through it. He is your source of strength. When you think you can't do something, he does the heavy lifting. Before you know it, you're through and on the other side.
Sometimes we make troubles bigger than they are. We can turn them into a monster by obsessing over them. Jesus, however, sees all things clearly. Nothing frightens him. Nothing intimidates him.
Nothing is more powerful than Jesus.
That's why you need him on your side. And if he's already on your side, you need to keep reminding yourself of that. He's the secret. He's the way. He'll get you through Christmas and everything else life throws at you.