Andrew Garland Breeden

I get bluesy around the holidays. When I was younger, Christmas was mostly about the presents I would receive. I was excited to have new toys to play with, new clothes to wear, or new books to read. Over the years, the meaning of Christmas and the emotions I experience during the season have changed. Christmas has become more about taking a break from the demands of life, eating my favorite holiday foods, and spending time with family and close friends. It is also a time for self-reflection.

This past Christmas I spent most of the day wavering between joyous excitement and being on the verge of tears. Christmas brings out a nostalgia that often leaves me feeling sad and empty. I wonder if others feel the same way but never have the courage to ask. I always expect Christmas to be nothing but joy, and rarely does it live up to that expectation.

blue eyes FTRAll my family gets together at Christmas. Often I catch myself looking around the room, thinking about loved ones who are no longer here and wondering who might not be here next year. Absence is as present as the signs of life around me—the loud conversations, the smell of food, and the brightly lit Christmas tree.

I do a lot of soul-searching during this season. I reflect on my accomplishments over the past year and what I could have done better. I think about how I have grown as a person and the ways I need to grow in the coming year. Self-reflection can be a joyful experience; it can also be a painful one, especially when I recall my failures and what I have lost.

I run into trouble when I resist the reflection that Christmas calls forth from me. I think my Christmas blues result in part from trying to force the season to be one of pure joy and being disappointed when it is not. But what if I let myself embrace the season as a time of joy and sadness? With each passing year I realize that I will make gains and endure losses, that I will succeed at some endeavors and fail at others. Instead of resisting this truth, what if I accepted it? What if I welcomed all the emotions I experience at Christmas and let them remind me that there will be seasons of joy and seasons of sadness, and regardless of which one I am in, God is with me through it all?

What better time than Christmas to remind myself that God was with me in the year that is ending and will be with me in the one about to begin, whatever it may bring. My hope for you and for me in the new year is that there are many joy-filled moments. In all the ones that aren’t, we can remember that God understands our pain and sadness, is with us in it, and will help us find a way through.



Spend some time reflecting on your expectations for the holidays. What are you most looking forward to? What worries do you have? What might you try to avoid? Where do you see God in what you are experiencing? Who can you talk to about what you are feeling? What will you say to this person? What do you want to say to God

Andrew Garland Breeden , Acquisitions Editor of The Upper Room magazine, lives in Charlotte, Tennessee. He enjoys hiking, playing golf, and just about any other outdoor activity.

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