My social media feed one month ago was inundated with pre-Christmas survival-type blogs. You know the kind of thing: “7 tips to stress less this Christmas”, “How to spend time with family without wanting to kill them”, “How to make a killer Christmas lunch” and so on. My feed was full of tips and tricks and techniques for survival.
In the midst of the mass of advice, what really caught my attention were blogs about singles and childless people surviving Christmas. I read a few of these in the lead-up to Christmas. There were blogs for surviving family, surviving the “When are you going to get married?” and “When are you going to have kids?” interrogations, surviving your own grief and loss triggers and surviving child-centric events.
Thinking back over those blogs, I consider an important question: now that Christmas is over and the new year has begun, how in heck did we actually survive? Some of us may have found it difficult to apply those neatly blogged survival strategies to our own unique and slightly dysfunctional lives. In fact, as we headed into Christmas, some of us may have found it hard to believe that we would survive the festive season at all.
And yet we did survive. Because here we are. Something enabled us to get through the challenges and heartaches of another Christmas without a family of our own. Something or someone helped us through. My question to you today, on the other side of Christmas, is not so much did you survive, but How did you survive? What ideas, people and things got you through?
For me, it was the revolutionary decision to skip Christmas carols. We skipped carols for possibly the first time ever. We are typically big supporters of carols, especially those run by our local church. We usually take along our camp chairs, dinner supplies, games and anything else that will help to pass the time until the carols begin.
But in recent years, carols has become one of those events that is just really hard for us. The combination of kids’ carols, petting farms and showbags, not to mention the overwhelming number of children running around having a screaming good time, has proved to be a bit too much these days. So we made a self-care decision last Christmas and skipped the carols. It was one of those little decisions that made survival so much more achievable.
There was a bunch of other stuff that helped us too. We attended a quiet, reflective Christmas Eve service. We helped to lead worship at our local church on Christmas Day. We saw family and ate a mountain of food and showered people with gifts. All of those things reminded us that serving, not selfishness, needs to be the central focus of our lives. But that extra step of missing carols was a good fit for us.
It’s all well and good to share survival advice before Christmas. But I think it’s even more meaningful to share it afterwards. That’s the stuff that has withstood the test of Christmas and has proved our capacity to endure.
So how about your story? How did you survive Christmas? What things did you do, or not do, or think about, that helped you through?