As I write this you may have been finishing off your Christmas shopping – or perhaps you haven’t even started yet! Office parties and ‘works do’s’ are mostly behind us and the countdown to Christmas itself is well and truly on. But – how do you cope with this festive season when you’re hurting? Maybe in physical pain, or mental turmoil, or possibly in the sharp pangs of recent bereavement. Mind you, the nostalgia factor of this time of the year tends to pull the scab off even old bereavements and makes being alone so utterly raw.
Well I’ve been there. In fact, due to an abscess under a back molar, I’m reliving it at the moment! Several Christmas seasons are seared into my memory for enduring pain and even being in hospital when all around were so jolly. My ‘ho, ho, ho’ became a cry of ‘no, no, no’ many times over the last two decades. So, here’s my 5 ways to survive Christmas in pain:
- Keep it Simple. Christmas does not have to rule you. Never mind the expectations of others, go easy on yourself. An ancient proverb (from the Bible actually) advises ‘make level paths for your feet’. Be honest with those around you about your own needs, and be honest with yourself too.
- Keep it Reasonable. Going into serious debt is no fun and certainly no way to enjoy any season, let alone Christmas. Nor is it reasonable to party into the early hours when your body is craving rest or your heart is breaking. Being reasonable certainly doesn’t have to be expensive or turn you into Ebeneezer Scrooge. Know your own limits and stick to them.
- Keep Looking Ahead. You might call this ‘having hope’. For a Christian hope is based on the character of God and his promises. But whether or not you follow Christ, remember that Christmas Day is just another day on the calendar and will soon pass. And – New Year is coming! Yay! I love New Year. Like stepping out onto the snow the morning after a blizzard, 2020 will give us all a chance to start over and make our mark.
- Keep Focused. The Bible says that there are only three things that really matter in life: faith, hope and love, and that the greatest of these is love. Love came down that first Christmas and because of that we can lean back on the knowledge that we are loved. Focus on those facts and the pain will become less dominating. Hold onto loving and being loved and the loss will ease. Tinsel will tatter, and lights will fade, but love goes on for ever.
- Keep Being Grateful. We are alive today, and this day may be all we’ve got, so let’s grab it and live! When gratitude becomes our attitude amazing resources of strength and endurance can be found like lost coins down the side of your settee. In the words of the old song ‘Just one day at a time’ will see us through this challenging Christmas season.