Recently, a friend said, “I just can’t understand your love for Christmas and why you go all out to celebrate.”
The answer is simple: Jamie and I decided several years ago that we wanted to enjoy Christmas.
Here’s the brutal but honest truth: there is absolutely no reason in the world that Jamie and I should love Christmas.
Our lives are far from picture-perfect and don’t contain any ingredients in the quintessential formula for the perfect Christmas.
We’re both single.
Neither of us have kids.
Our Mom passed away, and our Dad doesn’t like the holidays. Our extended family is not in our lives, and we don’t get invited out for Christmas or Thanksgiving. We spend them alone.
We’re still raising our missionary budget (perhaps you saw the videos), so money is tight. We don’t buy expensive gifts or go on trips.
Even if we could afford it, Jamie’s disability and my back pain prevent us from going to many Christmas attractions.
Also, even though we have good Christmas memories, we also have Christmas trauma out of the wazoo we are still working through.
We are prime candidates to be grinches, or at least the people who don’t celebrate because it’s too triggering.
And yet, we are clearly just the opposite. Why?
Because we decided years ago that we wanted to enjoy the season. After years of being sad, depressed, and ignoring the holiday (we’d work on Christmas), we decided, “This is not who we want to be.”
And we started finding ways to celebrate, and the joy followed.
What did we do?
Well, we started by choosing to give. First to charity, then to friends, and we finally started giving gifts to each other. They aren’t expensive or extravagant—usually something sentimental or something the other person wants but won’t buy for themselves. It isn’t the gift—it’s the thought. There is no pressure or stress, just generosity.
After that, we started participating in and serving in church activities. It gave us a sense of community. Even if we spent the actual day alone, we spent the season having fun with friends.
Then came the year we decided to begin decorating again. Yes, believe it or not, we didn’t decorate for years. First, it was because of my Mom’s allergies, then it was because we were sad that she passed away, but then it was because we were afraid it would upset my Dad. Then, one year, we invited friends to our house, and I thought, “Enough of this nonsense. We’re decorating.”
After we put up that first tree…well, the rest is history. (I put up 4 Christmas trees this year!) Then we started decorating outside (after all, why should the Christians be the only dark house on the block?). Now we even decorate our car. One of our friends jokes, “You went from ignoring the holiday to being Christmas crazy.”
How did this happen?
Honestly, it came down to the choice to stop focusing on what we didn’t have at Christmas and enjoy every part we could.
We chose to enjoy the little things:
—Watching Christmas movies
—Singing along and dancing to Christmas music
—Making Christmas cookies
—We wear funny Christmas clothes and pj's throughout December
Rather than sulking about our circumstances, we,
—Drive to see our friend’s kids in Christmas plays
—We get our friends funny Christmas cards.
—One year, we Face-timed our friends, sang Christmas songs and called it, “virtual Christmas caroling.”
—Take little trips to nearby places to look at Christmas lights (I love looking at Christmas lights.)
We learned a long time ago that Christmas will always be awful if we wait for the “big trip,” the “expensive gift,” or for our lives to resemble the cast of a Hallmark movie. However, if we enjoy each other and have as much fun as possible, we will have a fun, joyful holiday.
That’s what we do—we choose to enjoy the holidays.
We don’t wait to “feel Christmas joy.” We choose to be joyful.
If we can do this in our circumstances, anyone can do it.
So, I challenge you this season: choose joy.
Decide to have fun.
Make a conscious effort to celebrate.
Enjoy the little things.
Choose to have a Merry Christmas.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."