How to THRIVE This Holiday Season

If you’re like many single moms, the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. Everywhere you look you see happy little married couples, and it doesn’t help when the radio blares the tunes “It’s a Holly Jolly Christmas” or “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”  Seems like when I was a single mom everywhere I turned there was an opportunity for an emotional meltdown. Then, after a couple of years, I changed my strategy concerning holiday wellness from being reactive to proactive. And it worked!  I actually found myself riding on top of the holiday spirit.

I’ve listed ideas to implement in your holiday planning. Not all of them will fit your list of possibilities, but even if you select only a few, you’re ahead of the game. It’s a fact we can’t ignore: we determine much of our holiday joy.

So why not consider these?

  • Redefine your definition of family. A household does not need a physical husband in order to be complete. Wholeness is not found in marriage but in Christ. Jesus is your husband, and He alone can fill every void.
  • Instead of focusing on what’s going wrong, focus on what’s going right. We get to choose what we think. We are a sum of our thoughts; therefore, if you want joy, choose God’s thoughts.  If you want hopelessness, choose your thoughts.
  • Start new family traditions. Christmas doesn’t have to look like years past. Force yourself to engage in creative activities.  For example, buy red and green pajamas for the children followed by a movie night.  Make a popcorn garland and nibble away. 
  • Put an emotional alarm system around your heart. Avoid going places that take you down the wrong path.  God deals bountifully with those who do life His way.
  • Set boundaries. Know what you can and cannot do. Tell your friends and family what you’re capable of this year. If they offer well-meaning advice that doesn’t feel right, stick to your guns.  You’re the one living in your skin. Next year might be different.
  • Do something out of the ordinary. Volunteer or treat yourself to a massage. Go to an event you normally would not attend. Expose yourself to new adventures you’ve never had time for in the past: opera, sports events. Partake in the season in a new light. 
  • Don’t try to eradicate the pain with alcohol or drugs or excessive shopping. Ignoring the root problem by numbing the emotional tension only creates a deeper hole to dig out of when the January “Happy New Year” appears on your calendar.
  • Be realistic with “what is.” Accept your difficulty and loss. When you fight it, you can’t receive God’s peace. Our greatest times to experience God’s nearness happen when we’re struggling. Call on Jesus and remember, this too shall pass.
  • Lower your expectations.  Don’t expect others to fill your emptiness. We can’t rely on our friends, former spouses or even children to meet the deepest needs of our heart.  Only Christ is able. 
  • Deal with your loneliness factor in a godly way. The most damaging scenario for both you and the children would be to get involved in a seasonal intimate relationship because you’re suffering from “what used to be” or what “hasn’t happened yet.”
  • Dive into God’s Word. Find creative ways to meditate on Scripture. Make Christmas about the Savior. Write your feelings to God in a journal.  Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.  I still have my single-mom journals. It became my life source, a discipline I still practice today.
  • And remember, this is only ONE season out of your life.  If you live to be ninety, this December will one day be only a distant memory; however, it does matter this year in the well-being of your children. So live it intentionally as if it’s the last one you’ll have to invest in their holiday album of treasured memories.

I’ve been encouraging single parents for several decades and trust me, things never stay the same. So take heart. Let the jingle bells ring and make this Christmas a memorable one.

And now may the Lord give increase to you and your children. Psalm115:14 

About Pam Kanaly   

Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I’d have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.