One year, back when I was a preteen, my brother and I convinced the adults in our extended family to let us open our gifts on Christmas Eve. We were so excited to tear into the packages a whole 12 hours earlier than usual.
But the next morning I felt so let down. The surprises were no longer surprises. The big reveal, the big fun, had already passed. It was over.
I don’t think I will ever want to open all my gifts on Christmas Eve again. But to a degree, I feel echoes of that premature gift-opening after every Christmas. Every year there is a bit of a letdown after all the parties end and we put the leftover Christmas cookies in the freezer. All the hype and weeks of growing excitement are over in a few short hours on December 25. Turn on the radio and all the stations have purged their song schedules of anything Christmas-y. It can be downright depressing.
What Christmas means for the rest of the year
This past August our church had a singalong on a Sunday night. There was no message — we simply took turns choosing a hymn or praise song or Scripture song to sing corporately. I was so excited when one member chose a Christmas song.
As much as I love Christmas, I dislike that it tends to relegate classics like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World” to December. The truths of Christmas are worth celebrating all year long, because Christmas impacts the entire calendar year.
It matters in February that Jesus is God with us. In September, it’s important to remember that Jesus loved us enough to become one of us, to live for over three decades in our limited, fallen, suffocating world. We should never forget in June that God kept His promise to His promise-breaking people and made a way for us to be with Him again.
Christmas matters every day of the year — not because of snowmen, or Santa, or hot chocolate cocoa bombs, but because it reminds us of our constant hope. This Christmas pointed us to the strength of our hope in God’s promises, but it was never intended to actually be our hope. No Christmas gift or family celebration will ever perfectly satisfy us here and now. It can’t. Only God can satisfy us.
Tips for shaking the post-Christmas blues
If you are feeling the post-Christmas blues, here are a few ideas to help you recalibrate:
- Praise God for the Christmas you had this year (with all its imperfections). When we were little, we sometimes pouted if we didn’t get the gift we wanted. I guess we might still do that sometimes, but more often I think our disappointments are less material. Maybe our work schedule impacted our celebration. Maybe we didn’t get to see loved ones who live far away, or our visit wasn’t what we expected. After spending most of a day to travel out of state to see family a couple weeks ago, we had to cancel plans to see certain relatives because they were sick. And then we only got to spend a few hours with my grandma because we had to leave earlier than expected due to a family member feeling under the weather. It wasn’t perfect — no Christmas is — but we did get to visit with her for a little while. We had safe travel there and back, and we made lots of fun family memories on the road (I got to help entertain my six-month-old niece!).
- Schedule something with a friend this week. Try a new-to-you restaurant or invite a friend to your place. Anybody want to go see the new Spiderman movie?
- Do something thoughtful for someone else. There’s nothing like turning our focus outward when we feel like dwelling on our own disappointments. Who else do you know who might be feeling a little down? Send a card or even a text.
- Set a goal — a little one, just for this week. Maybe you have a thank-you note or two that need writing. Maybe you have an errand or a smaller task you’ve been putting off. For those of us who like crossing things off a list, that feeling of accomplishment can be a great mood booster.
Because Christmas points to a deeper joy, that one day on the calendar can never fully satisfy us. The letdown we feel after Christmas reminds us that our hope isn’t here. As we return to “the real world,” our hope is just as strong as it was during Christmas fun and celebrations.
And since we’re celebrating the impact of Christmas year-round, there’s no rush to put away the Christmas decorations.
Copyright 2021 Lauren Dunn. All Rights Reserved.