It’s been a difficult year and we are all ready for some Christmas cheer. However, many of us aren’t feeling too joyful. We are weary of the pandemic, lock downs, stay at home orders, and social distancing. We just want to put our arms around our loved ones, greet our friends with a hug, and see smiles on the faces of those we care about.
Christmas will certainly be different this year. The usual celebrations will not take place or need to be done in new and creative ways. The traditions we all count on may have to be put on hold. And those who have lost loved ones and jobs are feeling the grief of loss. But I am reminded of the Apostle Paul who told us to rejoice while he was in chains in prison. Despite his circumstances, he could still find joy. So how do we find joy during a holiday pandemic?
John Piper reminds us that joy is produced by the Holy Spirit. Because of Christ in us, we can see the beauty of the world around us. Rick Warren adds that, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” Neither of these definitions of joy is dependent on our circumstances. This is good news during a pandemic!
To find joy during this season, consider these 10 things:
- Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Keep the glass half full versus half empty. This will help create joy moments this season. How can we be creative and more intimate with our celebrations this year?
- Become other focused. Find ways to volunteer and serve where you can. Give to charities, toy drives, and those in need. Take food to the local food banks and care for your neighbors.
- Stay connected. Handwrite cards this year. Send cards and notes of encouragement to those in nursing homes, first responders and health care workers. They need to be remembered as they persevere through the pandemic.
- Make your home as cheery as possible. Decorate, bake and keep the family traditions alive as much as possible. This year, you may have to have your own Christmas Eve service, sing carols around the piano or with Pandora, but keep traditions alive.
- Make an advent wreath with candles. Search the Internet for how to make the wreath and add the candles. Each week of advent, light the candles and do the Scripture readings.
- Head out to view lights and nativity scenes in your community. This year, we can still drive through our neighborhoods and community areas to see the decorations. Keep the Christmas spirit alive by playing Christmas songs in your car. Take a mug of hot chocolate and make it an outing!
- Encourage those who are lonely to stay connected. People in recovery need to attend ZOOM AA and NA meetings. During this time, isolation can lead to relapse and suicide. So, check on those who are lonely and in recovery. Remember national hotlines are available 24.7. Two of the most important ones are the National Suicide Hotline– 800. 273.8255 and the National Domestic Violence hotline-1.800. 799. SAFE (7233).
- Exercise gratitude. Count it all joy knowing the trials of your faith will bring you patience. Start and end each day with 3 reasons to be grateful. This will improve your mood and physical health.
- Use social media to connect with family and friends over different celebrations of the season. Schedule times to talk, to celebrate together and to do fun things via social media platforms this year.
- Remember the source of our joy, In John 15:11, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Jesus is referring to his own joy as being in us — not just giving us a joy, but his joy in whatever he is joyful in is in us.