The Christmas season is a time of joy, peace, togetherness, and celebration. Right?
For many, holidays (especially Christmas) bring a lot of negative feelings, particularly guilt.
I’m a horrible parent/sibling/friend/spouse because I can’t buy my loved one the gift they deserve. I should have baked more/better. I have to go to that relative’s house even though they have treated me like garbage my whole life. If I don’t do this stressful holiday tradition, it won’t be Christmas. My Christmas lights are so plain compared to everyone else’s. It’s stupid that I don’t enjoy the holiday season. And the list goes on.
Let’s collectively decide that this is nonsense. Let’s say no to holiday guilt. Here’s how.
- Reconnect to the reason. For me, this season is a time of celebration because God saw fit to send his son to save humanity. Praising God for the birth of Christ has basically nothing to do with baked goods, decor, or even *gasp* giving and receiving gifts. Sure, there is symbolism in all of that, but the true reason for Christmas is much deeper. Reconnecting to this truth is a good reminder that the stuff you’re allowing yourself to feel guilty about is mostly unnecessary. Even if you believe Christmas is about family or giving, most would agree it isn’t about guilt.
- Examine your motives. Why does the thing in question cause you to feel guilty? Is the guilt about gifts actually stemming from financial insecurities? Do you feel like you just have to participate in a certain tradition because you never got to as a child? Do you want your lights to outshine the rest of the block because you feel outshined in another area of life? When you feel guilt starting to creep in during the holidays, stop and consider where that guilt is coming from. Many times this alone will help you to think more logically.
- Challenge your assumptions. For many, unfortunately, Christmas means spending time fake-smiling among people who have either treated them poorly or downright abused them. Every situation is different, but I want to encourage you to challenge the idea that you have to do this. Do you actually have to attend a certain gathering? Do you have to bake all those cookies because that’s what grandma did? Do you really have to donate to this or that when it’s going to truly hurt you financially? These are just a few examples, but taking time to challenge the thoughts about what is required during this season can be really helpful when saying no to guilt.
I hope that these thoughts have given you some ideas and encouragement. The Christmas season isn’t always easy, but losing the guilt can be a big first step in making it truly the most wonderful time of the year.
Have you felt holiday guilt? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below!
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