When the herald angel told the shepherds that he was bringing them good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, “all people” includes widows, divorcees, not yet married singles, single parents, parents missing their children, those experiencing financial hardships and betrayal, etc. Good tidings of great joy are for all of us, no matter our circumstances.
How can we have great joy when significant trials have just disrupted our lives? We have friends who recently married at middle age after the wife in that marriage had looked and prayed to find her husband for 15 years. Within a couple months after they married, she was diagnosed with a life-threatening health condition. Someone in that situation might suppose she cannot have joy. I assure you that is not the case with this friend. She feels blessed beyond measure to have found a good man to share her life and eternity with. That is what they are choosing to focus on.
How can a person have great joy if he or she is single and doesn’t have anyone to spend the holidays with? We have friends who host parties that invite together other singles to create a sense of belonging. We ourselves host quarterly LILY Dinners for the same reason. If we don’t have a traditional family to celebrate with, we can gather together a tribe of great people who also need a place to belong, which blesses everyone concerned with real love and connection.
How can I have great joy if my kids are with their other parent this year? Be creative in thinking of something you might like to do without your kids that you might not be able to do if they were with you. A couple of years ago, we enjoyed a less traditional Christmas that included staying at the Marriott Hotel Christmas Eve, soaking in the hot tub, sleeping in late, exchanging Christmas gifts by the Christmas trees in the hotel lobby, and enjoying the fabulous Christmas breakfast they put on — which included eggnog French toast, wassail, applewood bacon, etc. That afternoon we visited family and friends. It was not a traditional Christmas, but it was romantic and memorable. We plan to do something similar again this year while all our children are away celebrating the holidays with the other sides of their family.
How can I have great joy if I’m newly divorced? Jeff’s friend, Joel Sannes, shared an insightful perspective when he made the following comment on a post Jeff did about divorce and separation during the holidays: "The first Christmas after my divorce, I was scheduled to pick up my two-year-old daughter in the afternoon. That morning, I went for a bike ride. I stopped in a park and laid flat on my back on a hill that exposed me to the sun. It was by far the worst time of my life. I was stressed. I thought nothing good I had done could counteract the fact that I had failed at marriage. Over 15 years later, I still remember the winter sun warming my chest and, I remember thinking, fixing my heart." Joel’s comment made an impression on me about being kind to ourselves and being open to the healing power of God — allowing him to heal our hearts, especially during the holidays.
These are just a few examples of the challenges that can make us question whether we can feel joy. Yet we can see in every instance that there are moments for the glad tidings of great joy to touch our hearts in any situation we find ourselves in.
Since we’ve spent the last two years podcasting and producing professional videos, we have a lot of great material specifically about Christmas and the holidays. Please enjoy these resources as part of your preparation for holiday festivities.
Our new video release this week is Am I Lying to my Children about Santa Claus? and last week is Single Parenting and the Holidays. Last year’s videos were Divorce and the Holidays and Creating New Love in the Holidays, along with Jeff’s Favorite Christmas Song (“O Come O Come Immanuel” arranged by the Piano Guys and played by Cathy on Violin). Enjoy our Christmas podcast Keeping Christ in Christmas (on Luke 2), which will bring the spirit into your season. This week’s short is Santa Motivation.
May this be a special time of year as we receive gifts from others and from our Savior with hearts full of gratitude and overflowing with joy. Convenient links to all our holiday videos and podcasts below. Merry Christmas!
FEATURED THIS WEEK
OTHER HOLIDAY FEATURES
Published in Meridian Magazine 12/20/23