Why I Don’t Love the Holidays

Thanksgiving 2017

I don’t want to write this. In fact, I’m typing fast before I lose my nerve because I’m supposed to be working on the Black Friday promotion of Breakfast With My King. This, however, is more important.

This isn’t the quintessential “hope for the holidays” piece. I wrote that last year, if you’re interested. I’ve spent the last three holiday seasons empathizing with those experiencing holiday blues because for the first time, I understood. I am more compassionate toward the cashier checking me out at the grocery store when I need more brown sugar on Thanksgiving Day. I feel closer to those who are anxious about holiday party invites because they feel lonely during the season. I understand the people who adore being with family but the sting of absence sits in your stomach heavier than the food you’re about to consume. It’s a lot. I start wondering around October if THIS will finally be the holiday season when only joy is felt. Not the absence of my brother, Ricky.

I was at the train station the other day and saw a teenage boy and a little girl walking together. I don’t know if she was his little sister or not. I don’t know how many years apart they are. I know that the seconds they spent walking past me happened in slow motion. I cried at the sight of, what my mind presumed, as a little sister and big brother being together. I was ashamed that it hurt me to see them.

It’s hard to explain. What I’ve come to know is that many of us exist between what we expect to see and what we actually see. The holidays for many are sad because you expect to see family and sometimes there is no family to see. You expect to experience “good tidings of great joy” and are disappointed when the song just makes you sad. You may even expect to relive fond memories of years past, and become depressed when what you see is different than what you expected. Perception can manipulate our emotions into negating the beauty in travesty.

Here’s what I mean. I’ve spent the last five years really building a deep relationship with my dad. We visit. We call. We dine. We take selfies. We’re legit. I took a different approach this year as I decided to spend Thanksgiving with him again. I decided I wouldn’t manipulate our time together with my expectations. I adore my father. Knowing that, I am not putting expectations on our time together. In the past, I found myself disappointed in something he did or said, or didn’t. I visited with the idea that we would do one thing or another and we didn’t. I painted a picture of who he is and who he should be in  my mind. It’s only ever left me wanting. So I stopped. I am loving and living with him in the moments. Every time someone asked me what we’re doing together for Thanksgiving this year, I said I don’t know. Because I don’t. I didn’t ask. I don’t want the picture in my mind to be colored over with reality. I just want to be with him. This year our time together is uninterrupted by my expectations. It’s been a joy!

The other thing is that I have always loved the holidays. I still do. I love Hallmark Channel movies, Christmas pjs and a good church choir concert. The last few years, as I’ve gotten to connect with many people on a deeper level as I’ve publicly shared my story of grief and triumph, I’ve collected some learnings. The holidays are for us too.

If you are feeling lonely this season, if you are broke or broken, if you are grief-stricken, and if you are disappointed or depressed, guess what? You are the reason hope has come. The story of the birth of Jesus is one riddled with despair and hope. It tells of God wrapping Himself in humanity, poverty and servitude. It speaks of Mary, the mother of Jesus, giving birth in a lonely barn away from her hometown. You want to know why the “weary world rejoices” over the “good tidings of great joy” the angel brought in Luke 2? It’s because the announcement of the birth of King Jesus was for all of us. With a hit out on his life from a king who wanted him dead, Jesus survived until the time of the king’s death when He was able to go to Israel (Matthew 2). What am I saying? I’m reminding us that as we celebrate today and throughout the season leading up to Christmas, Jesus came for a broken world. Remember that He was born to redeem those long-waiting His coming, and those hostile toward it. Remember that the flesh His heavenly being was wrapped in would one day be slain.

No matter where this season may find you, you’re in good company. Jesus came to comfort, to heal, to deliver and to rescue. The holidays, to me, are actually for those in need of His nearness. These days, when I sing “Joy to the World” it takes on a whole new meaning. It declares to my emotions that I am profoundly aware that the Lord is come. Jesus being the reason for the season isn’t so that kids can have toys and couples can have matching Christmas sweaters – ALTHOUGH I LOVE BOTH. It’s so that those sleeping outside can be comforted, those without family can find a home in His heart, those in prison can be free in Him, those grieving can experience the peace of His presence and those sick can know His joy.

I used to love the holidays because they made me happy. I don’t anymore. I love the holidays because they keep me hopeful.


Remember, God loves you and so do I,


PS. Breakfast With My King is on sale now! Order yours here. If you’d like a signed copy, please reach out at Ebonee@eboneespeaks.com. I, or someone from my team, will respond to you with details. Also, be on the lookout for this year’s holiday gift guide. It’s flames, I promise!

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Ebonee Speaks was born at the intersection of Jesus and Justice. We are a global ministry committed to illuminating the voices of women and girls who have been silenced. Our charge is to honor God through our gifts, social justice advocacy and kingdom living.
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