When the holiday fails to cheer

Christmas time is near, and we’re reminded of this everywhere we go. Decorations burst from the aisles of our local convenience stores, Santa Claus is at every mall waiting to take pictures with children and people are already decked out in Christmas hats and sweaters. Regardless of how we feel about this holiday, it’s safe to say that excitement fills the air at this time of year.

However, if you’re anything like me, you may be dreading it. Maybe your new reality is that you’ll be spending this holiday differently than previous years. If this is you, you’re probably thinking through the traditions you still wish to continue and some that you want to change. Allow me to assure you that you are not alone.

“I’ve created some of my own traditions, like sending out personal Christmas cards to family and friends, reminding them of how much I love them,” senior graphic design major Taylor Allen said.

Personally, I’m usually my happiest during this time of year. After finals, I have many traditions to look forward to, from my mom’s h­­ome-cooked meals to watching the “Home Alone” series and even doing a little after-Christmas shopping. This year, however, I face the reality of a loved one no longer being with me, which forces me to practice old traditions with others and come up with a few of my own.

Adjusting your yearly Christmas plans can be frustrating. Suddenly you have to find a sense of belonging with those you don’t normally spend the holiday with, which forces you to step out of your comfort zone.

Breathe. It will be okay.

Before you throw Christmas away entirely, let me offer you a few traditions that may be useful to you this year.

While home-cooked meals, the “Home Alone” series and after-Christmas shopping will still be among the many things I do this year, it’s my hope to also do more intimate things, like spending hours decorating my Christmas tree, writing long lists of things I’d like to get from Santa and even making cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. I even anticipate playing Nat King Cole’s radio on Pandora to uplift my spirits. You’d be surprised at how much fun you can have doing these things, whether you’re by yourself or with dear friends and family members.

I anticipate going to church, too. I desire to spend time around other believers to feel God’s presence that way. That is a tradition I haven’t always done, but wish to implement this year especially. Oftentimes, I forget that Jesus is the reason for the season, so spending intentional time with Him is of the utmost importance.

“There are no words that can describe the pain one feels during the holidays because of the loss of a loved one,” freshman music major Lauren Vasquez said. “I pray they draw close to Christ during this time.”

My prayers are with those in the midst of figuring out their Christmas plans. I pray that God gives you the courage to enter this holiday season with cheer. May you find comfort in the presence of God and still honor those loved ones who may not be at the dinner table with you this year. You are still loved, valued and most certainly deserving of an enjoyable holiday season.

“Though Christmas is a joyful time for some, we have to be cautious of those who are entering into this season with a few reservations,” senior theology major Angelique Pickett said. “There’s so much hype about it on campus, which is great, but to be sensitive to those who aren’t the most excited about it is something we haven’t practiced as a community.”

You are deserving of a good holiday. After all, you survived finals and you have great things to look forward to in 2017. May your holiday be memorable with whomever you decide to spend it with. Take courage, and create some of your own holiday traditions this Christmas.