Mama, Are You Hurting this Holiday Season?


If you’re hurting this holiday season, you aren’t alone. 


Holidays are intense. The word ‘holiday’ actually means “holy day.” These are days and seasons where we encounter the sacredness of life no matter what we believe about God. It is a time of year where happiness and love burn brighter, and loneliness and loss create a deeper ache. Then there is the business of holiday parties and the work and planning that goes into creating all of that holiday magic, and let’s face it: mama, much of that magic is created and planned by you.  


So what is a mother to do when she is suffering or in a season of stress, but the holidays are still coming, and there is magic to be made? Mama, it is okay to hit the easy button. Let that elf stay on the shelf. Order in. Keep it simple. Dial it all back so that you can continue to shine for your family for many years to come.
I’m looking at you, mama, with a brand new baby with a body that is still bleeding and healing. Find rest. All the holiday magic you need is in your arms, and you can’t get these days back. 
My Christmas baby 2011
I’m looking at you, mama, with the empty arms. Pull the covers up tight and let other people be strong for you this time. You don’t have to open the Christmas cards if the family photos and cheery updates hurt too much.  
I’m looking at you, mama, who is both mom and dad in your home. You are not alone and you don’t have to fix this.
To all of you, you are stronger than you know. Your children came here to reveal that to you. 
The year that my son Joey died, I found the holidays to be intensely paradoxical. I knew that Thanksgiving was there to lift me from my self-pity, and yet the work of the holiday was too much for me to face. So we went to a YMCA camp where we would not feel the empty space at the table so intensely, and the work of the holiday was left to others. 
A family gathered around a table for the holidays
Thanksgiving 2016 at Trout Lodge. No cooking, no cleaning, just thankful.
I knew that Christmas was there to bring me face to face with a baby boy – but how could I look at the Christ child when my arms were so empty and my heart so raw? I survived this one in part by pretending, because my living children and my family needed the rituals of church and meals, a tree, and gifts. I went through the motions, but on Christmas morning, when the light from the window reflected off of the star on our Christmas tree and formed a rainbow on our ceiling, I knew that the magic of Christmas was not left up to me. 
Mama, if you are hurting this Christmas, if you are ill, overwhelmed, or grieving, if your relationships are broken – the magic of the season can still find your family. It is not about how much magic you can make by busying yourself with every Pinterest idea you can find. The magic is already there because these are, in fact, holy days. 
What if this Christmas you gave yourself permission to stop, to look up and to find the One who makes the holidays holy days? He is with you no matter what you are facing and He is all the magic your family needs this year. He is enough. Gather your strength for the next season. It’s okay to let this one go. And when the season of strength comes, go and make that magic again. Live it up and pull out all the stops. Let the joy of the season wash over you. You were made to shine, and you will shine again. Merry Christmas mama. May His peace be with you. 


  1. Very well written. All moms can relate to what you wrote no matter their circumstances. The empty nest moms who won’t be with children are hurting too. I remember the first time that happened to me. You are right when you say look for the reason for Christmas. The love of Jesus is sufficient.

  2. Such a sweet reminder to give grace to YOURSELF first. Though my “baby” would have turned 34 years last week, her absence the past three years doesn’t seem to exclude me from continuing to be the family “cruise director”. I find myself ready to pass on the entertainment baton that would now be hers. Instead I find multiple questioning eyes asking “what are the plans? What’s next?” I know in my heart my loved ones sense the absence of our favorite girl too but they are hungry for some expression of hope and celebration. It is what she would want as well. So I prioritize, I take breaks, and I find as many shortcuts as possible. The Lord seems to always show up and fill in my weary gaps!

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