Part of my love of the Holidays comes from owning a small, retail store The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry in Ocilla, GA. This is the time of year that my shop looks the prettiest. Ornaments and twinkle lights have a magical way of transforming a space and, of course, there is always lots of glitter! Sales are good, so the normal worries of small business subside, temporarily. People coming in are usually happy and excited to pick out the perfect gift for the special folks on their list. Cakes and casseroles are being picked up, children are counting down the days to Santa and we can’t wrap gifts fast enough to keep up! I am usually happily checking off names on my list and finding great joy in picking out gifts that my special folks will really love. This time of year is usually so exciting! Usually.
To be perfectly honest with you, I am struggling this year. I am not super sad or depressed, just having trouble getting into the spirit of the season. I am low on Holiday cheer. I have found myself not super excited about Christmas shopping or wrapping presents. (Check my temperature!) I have struggled to throw together a Christmas party for my Shoppes family, an event I usually look forward to all year. I have not put up one single decoration at my house. I am also pretty sure that I am not the only one who is experiencing a holiday cheer deficiency this year.
I am surrounded by so many who have lost loved ones, are dealing with illness, or are going through a divorce. It seems extra hard to summon your Holiday cheer from within when you are feeling burdened by the state of the community around you. Burdened by the fact that there are not enough hours in the day to call or send notes to all who are hurting. Burdened by the fact there are more foster children than I can count from my community that will be wishing they were home this Christmas, in their own beds and wishing they had family to love and take care of them. Basically, burdened by the needs, both spiritually and physically, of my community, and feeling like there is not enough of “me” to go around! It seems selfish to focus on gifts and parties when there are so many who are hurting and in need.
So, what should I do about this holiday cheer problem? Be a scrooge and just not celebrate this year? Just let Christmas pass and pretend it is not happening? Well, I don’t think that is the answer to the problem at all. There are people that need me. They need me to be cheerful, to greet them with a smile, and to show them the love of Christ, no matter how I am feeling on the inside. I know you have all heard the phrase “fake it til’ you make it.” There really is something to that. The act of going through the motions, even if you heart is not in your task. I believe that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep showing up and being faithful, your heart will catch up with you eventually.
I have decided that I will keep singing my favorite Christmas songs. I will keep greeting folks with a smile, and be as loving as I can be. I will write notes and visit with as many hurting folks as I can. I will keep collecting shoes for foster children and praying for their comfort and peace this holiday season.
I looked ahead to December 25th in my daily devotional book, “Streams in the Desert,” to find a little inspiration for this blog. I love the power in the simplicity of this thought: Let us be glad and rejoice today, because He has come. And let us remember the proclamation of the angel: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:10-11)
Let’s be about the Lord’s business this holiday season and in the coming year. Let’s make it a point to be aware of the needs of our community and see that burden as a blessing, not a curse. Opportunities to share the "good news of great joy," the love of Jesus to a hurting world!