Surviving the Holidays


There is a famous Christmas song I have enjoyed hundreds of times. The classic song didn’t mean much to me until now. As I was driving in my car reluctantly listening to Christmas music on the radio these lyrics caught me off guard: 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

Next year all our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the yuletide gay

Next year all our troubles will be miles away

Once again as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Will be near to us once more

Someday soon we all will be together

If the fates allow

Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

I know it may seem very obvious, but I never noticed the pain in this song before. There is a very present tension between happy and sad; hopeful and mournful. I wanted to know more about this song so I did some digging and discovered it was originally written for the movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis.” I had heard the song, but I hadn’t seen the movie so I rented it. As I watched Judy Garland sing this famous song I could see the pain on her face.

How many of us can relate to this tension in the holiday season? A season where we decorate our homes with words like: merry, happy, joy, and peace. A season filled with wonder, excitement, and anticipation. A season where emotions like: grief, sorrow, and pain feel awkward and out of place.

If you find yourself sitting in this space, torn between happy and sad you are not alone, I am right there with you. The holiday season this year hurts. My best friend is gone. The grief and shock is still very fresh, Andrew died in August, how is it December already? How can life continue moving along when the love of my life is gone? How do I find joy and peace in this season?

Let’s go back to the lyrics. What I love the most about this song is how it acknowledges the presence of pain. The lyrics don’t say your heart will be light, they say let your heart be light. Its a choice. Not only that, but the lyrics paint a beautiful picture of a hope. I do not believe, “time heals all wounds,” but I do believe time has a way of lessening the intensity of pain. It will always hurt, but eventually as time passes the troubles of today will be, miles away. 

As I look ahead to: Christmas next week, a new year around the corner, and decades of life ahead of me, I am forced to muddle through somehow. The word muddle literally means: to manage to do something you are not prepared to do. Wow, on point!

I have no idea the situation or season of life you may be muddling through right now. I have no idea how heavy the weights you are carrying around may be. Perhaps, like me, you’ve lost someone. Maybe you're grieving the death of a loved one, or an unexpected miscarriage, or a relationship separated by divorce, or even the death of a dream. Maybe you actually have no clue how you are going to “let your heart be light” or “muddle through.” I want to leave you with one encouragement today: “it’s okay.” It’s completely okay to not know. Its completely okay to not feel joy or peace in this season. It’s completely okay if you did not put up a single Christmas decoration because it just hurt too much. Better yet, its completely okay if you didn’t even buy a single present!

There isn’t anyone who understands the tension of happy and sad more in this Christmas season than God. The only reason we celebrate Christmas at all is because God gave it all. God gave up everything for you and for me when he sent His son to earth knowing the price He would eventually pay on the cross. The most beautiful gift we have ever been given, a gift we never even deserved. 

So I surrender the season to Him. I release the weight I have been carrying around and say, “God I wasn’t prepared for this, I didn’t plan for this, I don’t want to do any of this, but you’ve got this and today that’s enough for me.” 

In it together,