When you’re not in the Christmas mood

Column Post by Beth Cranford

I love Christmas. I love the lights, the music, the sweet treats, and  the extra time spent with loved ones. It’s the time of year when snow is welcome and hot chocolate covers a multitude of sorrows.

When the Christmas spirit hits me, I’m ready to jump in and enjoy the activities of the holiday. First, there are the decorations, then all those gifts to buy (and wrap while watching sappy Christmas movies), then all that baking (of foods that we’ll be shunning the month after, in light of our new year’s resolutions). I love to burn candles that smell like Christmas and listen to Christmas music as I go about my day. It’s a joyful time full of fun, gift-giving, and childlike wonder.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with approaching Christmas like this. I believe God enjoys watching us take joy in the blessings we have and celebrate life. But sometimes we’re not in the mood to celebrate. Some years I just don’t seem to have that “Christmas spirit”.

Maybe Christmas isn’t a joyful time for you this year. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, or maybe you’re under such a heavy burden right now that the twinkling lights are just not enough to dispel the dark clouds. I want you to know that I understand, and it’s okay.

If this Christmas is difficult, don’t beat yourself up for not being in “the Christmas mood”. This might be the year that you have to give yourself permission to take a step back from the standard American Christmas. If so, this is also the year that you need, more than ever, to capture the real joy that is Christmas.

Use this time to pull away from the noise and to hear God’s sweet, calming voice. Hear Him calling for you to join Him in a borrowed, lowly stable. Feel the quiet all around you, and let God usher that quiet into your own heart. See the baby, there in a manger, as human as human can be, yet entirely God.

The trouble that is keeping you from feeling the Christmas spirit, that darkness that hovers over you and keeps your joy subdued–that is why this baby has come. This baby has come to bring light into a dark world.  Your dark world.

Recently I was reading through the New Testament in the Message translation. Matthew 4:16 grabbed my heart.

 People sitting out their lives in the dark

                                     saw a huge light;

Sitting in that dark, dark country of death,

    they watched the sun come up.


What a beautiful image! Even if you’re sitting in a dark, dark, country, it’s time to watch the sun come up. No matter what is happening in your world today, there is joy to be found.

“For unto us a son is born; unto us a son is given …and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.” (Excerpt from Isaiah 9:7-6.)

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Beth Cranford believes every Christian has been equipped and empowered to do specific and effective work in the kingdom of God. It is her heart’s desire to see women live in the freedom that is theirs through Christ by helping them break free from depression and other strongholds. She encourages women to experience God’s power in their lives by understanding their identity and position in Christ and their unique design.

Beth has been married to her best friend for 21 years. Together they raise and educate their two children in middle TN. Beth has a passion for helping Christian parents design and implement an education that honors and nurtures their children’s individual design, equipping them for a life of freedom and power. You can find her at http://www.bethcranford.com

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)


22 thoughts on “When you’re not in the Christmas mood

  1. I really appreciate your thoughts on this – It is hard to be ‘up’ about the festivity aspect of Christmas – although not diminishing the Wonderful Gift we have been given – when our hearts are soooo heavy with numerous painful situations facing some of us at this time… Good to know someone here understands… Thank You – ;-} ‘God with us’ – Emmanuel –

  2. Hi Beth. I loved this post! This year I am experiencing one of those rare Christmases (for us) when none of our children can come home for the holiday. Usually when this happens I am not in the Christmas mood at all. In fact, I feel a sense of sadness instead of exceeding great joy. This year, as soon as I knew no one could come, I decided that this would actually give me the opportunity to really, really concentrate on that babe in the manger. I have looked, I mean really looked, at my nativity under the tree, and allowed myself to imagine being there, looking up at that star (I loved The Message verse, by the way). Instead of baking tons of cookies I have spent more time in church this year. Instead of trying to recreate the magic of a child’s Christmas for our adult children, I am recreating it for my husband, and he is delighting in my hints of little secrets to come on Christmas day. It started as a choice. Now I sense His grace. He cares when we are not in the mood to celebrate.

    • Linda, I love this! You’ve taken what could have been a sorrowful situation and turned it around for joy! I feel peaceful and filled just reading this! I’m so glad you took this approach and I hope you and your husband find much beauty in Christmas this year.

      I loved that verse too, I cried when I read it in that version. Something just struck me. I think my daughter thought I was a little weird. Oh well. Better to be weird because you’re crying over the Bible than to not care right?

      blessings to you and your husband!

  3. Thankyou so much for giving me permission to stop beating myself up for just not being up to the upbeatness of Christmas. In my house not a single handmade ornament has been made and not a single cookie baked. I finally did put up the Christmas tree. As you said I am not in the mood for a busy Christmas this year. I believe I will enjoy a calm Christmas this year away from the noise and in the presence of the real reason of the season.

    • Amanda, no cookies here either!
      Just be careful not to let your mood take over. I don’t want you to have a joyless Christmas, I want you to allow yourself to slow down so you can really experience the reason we celebrate. Let it soak in. Spend some time with the people you love but not in frantic holiday activities if you need a break from that. I love what Linda said above, she’s having a quieter Christmas but still finding lots of joy. I pray that for you too.

  4. I appreciate your words of encouragement during this Christmas season. Because He lives I will survive this temporary season. I’ve been in deep and intense prayer for my husband and our marriage to ease the various strains of having moved to a new area, job transitions and other financial struggles. There’s great comfort in knowing how others make their way through the season. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Hello,
    I am in a wilderness this Christmas season. I kind of feel lost. I am a single mother of 3 boys, and I am struggling financially. I foresee no way of buying gifts, and I have decided to focus on the “true meaning.” I am not sure how to feel about it. On one hand, I feel relieved not being caught up in the hurry up and spend spirit. On the other, I feel nothing. I have the house decorated and am enjoying the lights. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I am seeing the sun come up. Maybe this nothing I am feeling is actually peace. Maybe this particular feeling of peace is foreign to me because I am accustomed to feeling stressed and harried. Perhaps even though I am in the wilderness of single motherhood and financial strain, I am in an oasis of twinkling lights next to my baby Jesus. Maybe what I am feeling is the contentment a woman feels when she is in the presence of a sweet, innocent baby that is going to do wonderful things. Maybe I need to pick that baby up and hold Him close, take in His scent and listen to His baby noises. I could hold His head steady and look at His toes and fingers and nuzzle His neck. I could pat His bottom and hum in His baby ear. Maybe I will do that, and then I will feel in my bones the true meaning of Christmas.
    Merry Christmas!

    • Lori, I was raised as the youngest daughter of five girls and brought up by a single mom. I understand the never ending financial challenges.

      Were you aware that there are a wide range of helpful resources for single moms, especially at Christmas? Catholic Charities provides free Christmas gifts for parents who have low income. Consider looking into your local Catholic Charities and other non-profit organizations. It is not too late to make a phone call and seek financial assistance. Also, if you are a member of a local church, consider discussing your confidential information with the pastor/priest. Many churches have benevolence in which money is put aside to reach out and help struggling families. As far as food, consider checking with all local churches in your area for food banks. It will cost you no money and will truly be a blessing.

      Here are other resources to consider:
      Local Toys for Tots charity
      Church organizations
      Community service organizations or clubs
      Social service and low income assistance programs
      State and county agencies
      Salvation Army
      Women and children’s shelters
      College service learning programs

      Catholic Charities:

      My thoughts and prayers are with you and your children. May God fill you with peace, love, and hope this Christmas.


    • “Maybe this nothing I am feeling is actually peace.” You got it Lorie!

      I love what you wrote here, how you are seeing that the lack commotion in your heart is a good thing!

      My “baby” is 4, so I’m not too far removed from that baby cuddling you described, but, I’d take a few hours of that over any kind of purchased gift. And I know your children feel the same way. Yes they want something to open and I pray that God will provide that for you. But what they want most of all is just to be in the safety and comfort of their home with their mom. Tell them the story of Jesus and cuddle them and laugh with them. It can be the best Christmas ever!

      (popcorn is cheap and fun, you could have a very special popcorn & Christmas movie night. Everyone has to wear jammies! )

      • This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Beth for acknowledging the feeling in my heart. My babies are 16, 11 & 10, and while they do not care for cuddling, I think they do care for my time. We complicate things tremendously in our culture by consuming, consuming, consuming! I asked God to help me simplify my life, and it seems that He is starting with Christmas. 🙂 I think this will be a very memorable one for my children and I. Hold your “baby” close as you can for as long as you can. Children are precious, aren’t they?

  6. When something horrible happens around Christmastime, each year seems to bring back the memories of the painful situation. It is as if the Christmas tree is mocking your pain, because you remember looking at that same Christmas tree while sobbing a previous year. The situation was out of your control, and no healing ever took place.

    Yet we have control over whether we dwell in those negative thoughts, or if we get up and ask God to form new memories which will bring fresh air to our lives. We are never stuck. God heals and is able to take us on eagle’s wings. God knows our pain and feels it, too. And He is able to bring unexpected blessing if we will only open our hands again to receive it.

  7. Hi Beth,

    What a great article! This time of year can be a very dark place for some. I try to keep a balance. I focus time in Christmas prep with food for company, decorations, gifts, music, etc…and time at church, doing for others and with God. If I ever feel blue due to difficult Christmas’ past, I know God is there to remind me of the JOY in His Son’s birth!

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