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When my kids were little, I began planning for the holiday WAY early!

So much thought went into selecting each gift. I would search through my recipes for delicious cookies and candy to make. We hosted an ALL DAY party on Christmas Eve that ended with our extended family attending church together. We would spend a LOT of time discussing how early to get up on Christmas morning. We savored every minute of that day and the afterglow lasted for a few days.

It was so much fun!

Now our family has grown to include a wonderful daughter-in-law, son-in-law and grandchildren. We are very blessed. But…

The nest is empty and we share our family with their friends and “in-law families”.

No more school programs to attend.

No more holiday parties at our home.

Quiet Christmas mornings.

Very quiet.

This has been a struggle for me. If you know me at all, you know that I thrive on planning and having people in my home. This is quite an adjustment. It has gotten to the point that I find myself dreading the holidays.

Can you relate?

Maybe your nest is far from empty but a loss through divorce, death or dysfunction leaves a hole that makes holidays difficult.

I’ve been praying about this and asking God for direction. What I’ve come up with is that the pity party needs to stop. When I spend time dwelling on things that can’t be changed or what I don’t have, I’m being selfish and whiny.

So, here are 4 things that I’m working on to shoo away the blues…

  1. Make a new tradition. Grab a friend or two and go look at Christmas lights then go for dinner. Invite friends over for a potluck party. Go on a mini-vacation. While most businesses are closed on Christmas day, movie theaters are open. Catch a flick, stop by Sheetz for a free coffee and grab some Chinese takeout. 
  2. Count your blessings. Make it a point to stop several times throughout the day to thank God for something. Directing our thoughts toward the good in our lives keeps the focus off what we perceive to be negatives.
  3. Focus on others not yourself. There is NOTHING better to shut down a pity party than to think of ways to be a blessing to someone else. Is there someone less fortunate that you could bless? Someone else that might also be struggling right now? Buy a gift for them. Go for coffee. Invite them over. Help an organization that has a Christmas project such as, serving a meal to needy families, etc. Do something to make some else’s day brighter.
  4. Pray. Ask God to change your thought patterns. Praise Him for the blessings He has given you. Fill your mind with thoughts of your heavenly Father – the One that you can always depend on and is always there for you.

Remember that Christmas really isn’t about gifts and parties anyway. We say that Christmas is about being with family and loved ones. IT IS NOT. It’s about the most incredible gift of all time – Jesus coming to earth to save us.

“Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:10-11

Mandy Hood

P.S. I wrote this post around Thanksgiving time. I have to tell you what has happened since I handed this over to God and shut down the pity party. I expected my December to be long and quiet. So far, it has been full! Full of concerts, invitations by family and dear friends, sweet unexpected gifts and moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I urge you, that if you are feeling pushed around by your own negative feelings, to let go of them and look up. You’ll be surprised by the goodness all around you that you are missing.


Mandy is a board member and executive director of The Connection. She loves to facilitate women connecting with each other and helping them grow in their faith.

Mandy and her husband have been married for 38 years and have 2 adult children, 2 in-law children and 3 grandchildren.

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