Rejoice (or not)

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Ed Cyzewski wrote a great post around Thanksgiving entitled The Search for a Meaningful Christmas: Moving Beyond Guilt and Sentiment. It’s actually the first installment of three posts. Parts 2 and 3 are What are We Celebrating? and How Should We Celebrate Christmas?, respectively. If you haven’t read them, they’re definitely worth your time. Especially if, like me, you’re not exactly bursting at the seams with Christmas cheer.

Honestly? It’s stressful: Decorating, gift shopping, crowds, school parties, grown up parties, Christmas plays and/or recitals, travel plans, etc. We over eat, over spend, over extend ourselves to the point of near exhaustion, and yet we’re supposed to be merry and bright because it’s Christmas time. I know many of you reading this are shaking your heads and thinking, “That’s not what Christmas is all about. It’s about celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world, and even those who aren’t Christians can still celebrate a time to be with family and friends; to give and receive gifts as tokens of what we mean to one another.”

And all that’s great. You’re right–that IS what it’s all about, but that doesn’t mean many of us aren’t doing all the aforementioned things that add stress to the season. I’m not exactly feeling like the Grinch, I guess I’m just not feeling the Christmas spirit this year. I may get there, I may not. But I’m done feeling guilty about it. Ed really nailed it in his post when he said:

“I wonder if we sometimes try to force meaningful experiences or major spiritual epiphanies on ourselves during holidays like Christmas.”

I’ve realized that’s what’s always bothered me about this time of year. I’ll repeat what I wrote on Ed’s blog: I think people get overwhelmed and depressed at Christmas because they feel guilty for not getting swept up in the magic of Christmas. Instead of thinking about all they have, people often focus on what they are lacking–whether in spirit or material possesions.

This year, I’m giving myself the gift of permission. Permission not to feel guilty for not being merry and bright just because I’m supposed to. And by letting myself off the hook for not feeling what I’m supposed to feel, I’m leaving myself open to be caught off guard by unexpected moments of joy, of which I will be truly grateful.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Rejoice hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more (and undoubtedly more uplifting) posts on the topic of Rejoicing, please visit his blog,

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