Not So Merry or Bright

We often think of the Christmas season as a glorious time of love, celebration, and cheer. That’s why when I heard Relient K’s song “I Hate Christmas Parties” for the first time when I was in college, it immediately made me stop and think.

The lyrics at the end of the song say, “I hate Christmas parties. You offer me some punch, but I just shrug. I hate Christmas parties. You and the cookie tray both hear me say ‘Bah! Humbug!’”

Sad, right? Not exactly what we feel like hearing this time of year! But this song does highlight an idea we may forget or ignore during the holiday season: Sometimes Christmas just isn’t happy or merry or bright.

When It’s Not a Merry Little Christmas

Why would Christmas be sad for anyone? This season can actually be difficult for many reasons:

  • A recent death of a loved one—or the grief-filled memory of a death in December.
  • Everyone’s family seems to be happy and celebrating—except yours is falling apart.
  • All the happy couples put the exclamation point on your singleness.
  • Lacking the money for gifts—or even just to pay the bills.
  • Everyone else’s joyful pics on social media highlight your depression.

It’s easy to say, “Just brush it off and be happy. It’s Christmas!” But it’s not that simple.

I can clearly remember the ache of the first Christmas without my paternal grandparents, who died in the same year within six months of each other.

I remember being miserable in a family situation, and all the “happy family” Christmas cards I received that year made me sick to my stomach.

Maybe you’re also dealing with some sadness of your own. Maybe it’s a situation I mentioned, or maybe it’s something completely different, and it’s keeping you from celebrating the season.

I want you to know that I’ve been there. I understand your pain, and many others reading this probably do, too. It’s always important in times of sadness to remember that you’re not alone. Immanuel, God with us, never leaves your side. And when Christmas just doesn’t feel merry or bright, we can remember these two truths.

It’s more than okay to hurt or grieve.

Emotional pain and grief require time to process. It’s okay to recognize the hurt that’s in your heart; it’s okay to grieve and cry and pray tear-filled prayers. But don’t forget that God sees your hurt and invites you to draw close to Him.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18).

Maybe you feel like you need to hide your pain because it could put a damper on other people’s “happy times.” But you don’t need to hide from God. He is always there, He knows your pain, and He’s always ready to listen (Ps. 28; 56:8).

Even in grief, you can celebrate the birth of Christ.

To hopefully add some redemption to Relient K’s Christmas album, there’s another song called “I Celebrate the Day.” The most meaningful lyrics say, “I celebrate the day that You were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life.”

That, dear sister, is a reason to celebrate! The gift of salvation is truly the best gift ever given!

Your celebrations may not include all kinds of “holly jolly” festivities, but adoring Christ will be meaningful. He’s the One who came to rescue us from our pain and sorrow.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).

  • Have you ever experienced an unhappy Christmas season?
  • What helped you celebrate Christ in the midst of your hurt?

Feeling extra festive? Looking for even more Christmas blog posts? Visit the Revive Our Hearts First Songs of Christmas blog every day in December! It’s like an online Advent calendar, offering a special little something each day. Merry Christmas!

About Author

Sarah Garrett is a passionate educator and founder of the Transformed4More Ministries that she runs with her identical twin sister. It is her desire to reach struggling teenagers and tell them about the transformative power and love of God. Her book, "So, You Think You Are Ready to Date?" released in October 2017.

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