Christmas in Crisis: When Mom is Having a Blue Christmas


Blue ChristmasLet’s all admit to one fact right away: The holidays are CRAZY. Moms and kids are completely out of routine amidst all the parties, Christmas parades, school programs, shopping, and cooking. If we don’t keep careful track of our schedules and our budgets, we can feel stressed out and anxious in a season that is supposed to be filled with peace and joy.

But what if your life is in shambles before the holidays even start? How do you survive the holidays when you are in the middle of a crisis or heartbreaking grief? Christmas only happens one time a year, but a whole year of doing life can affect what Christmas looks and feels like.

The Tough Stuff

Last November, the week before Thanksgiving, my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had brain surgery the Monday after Thanksgiving. On top of this, I was dealing with significant health issues with my newborn son. A part of me wanted to celebrate just like we had in the past. And the other part of me, the part of me in crisis, couldn’t imagine how I could enjoy the holidays when so much HARD was happening in my life.

When you are going through a crisis, it is hard enough just to do the regular things in life, such as eating, sleeping, and keeping your kids alive. Add all the busy of the holidays and life spins out of control FAST. This very thing happened to me last Christmas. I tried to carry on through Christmas by doing all the “Christmasy” things of years past. But my mind was elsewhere. My mind was on my mom, who was recovering from brain surgery and getting ready for cancer treatments.

Throughout December, we continued to have appointments for our son, trying to figure out the medical puzzle of his difficulties. It was difficult to switch my brain between the immediate needs of my family and trying to wrap presents. I was trying to provide emotional support for my mom from another state and trying to get ready for Christmas parties. My son required extra attention because of his medical equipment, and I wanted to get Christmas cards out. My mind was swirling with a never-ending to-do list. And by the time Christmas came and went, I had lost all my joy.

I was exhausted and vowed that next Christmas would be different.

When the Mom in Crisis is You

Looking back several months later, I came up with some ideas of how to survive Christmas while in crisis. Some of these I did do and some of them I wish I had done (and plan to do in the future). These ideas can apply to anyone, not just those in crisis. But I think they are especially helpful when moms have had a very stressful year or are currently in a crisis. 

  1. Take care of yourself. During a crisis, you are running on adrenaline and you are exhausted. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and take breaks. Do something for yourself every day such as taking a warm bath, read a fun book, exercise, journal, or watch a favorite Netflix show. You are not being selfish. You need to take care of yourself because you are more likely to burnout when a crisis and holidays are combined. 
  2. Simplify food. Instead of cooking everything from scratch, buy things that are both healthy and already prepared. Your local grocery store or Costco are great places to find food that you can simply heat up. Or go all out and order take-out for something new, fun, and easy!
  3. Simplify gifts. Gift experiences and gift cards rather than trying to buy multiple “things” no one will use. 
  4. Simplify your schedule. Only say yes to the parties and events you really want to go to. Don’t feel obligated to go to every party. People will understand. 
  5. Go on vacation. Literally. Sometimes the best thing to do during a crisis is to get away and see some new scenery. After being in the hospital for several weeks with my son, all I wanted to do was get away to somewhere new. Spend Christmas in the mountains, on the beach, or in an Airbnb near your hometown. During a crisis, Christmas sometimes needs a makeover. Just remember to keep it simple so you don’t get stressed out from planning and packing. 
  6. Allow yourself to grieve and have BIG feelings. It’s okay to cry. Let yourself grieve, even during the holidays. Find someone you trust that will listen and let you cry on their shoulder. 

When the Mom in Crisis is a Friend

Although you might not be going through a crisis this Christmas, you probably know a mom who is. You probably know someone who is grieving a recent miscarriage, the loss of a parent, dealing with financial stress, or caring for a special needs child, among many other stresses. Here are some things you can do to help a mom-friend who is having a blue Christmas.

  1. Offer practical help. A mom friend in crisis needs time and space. Offer to watch her kids so she can do her shopping in peace. Help her with wrapping presents. Invite her family over for a holiday meal so she doesn’t have to worry about cooking. 
  2. Listen and empathize. Be willing to be a listening ear. Your mom friend needs someone to talk to about her feelings and struggles. Take her out for coffee and really listen to her heart.
  3. Pamper her. Moms who are going through crisis are often not taking care of themselves. They are often busy putting extra energy toward the crisis and trying to make sure everything else is in place during the holidays. Make a pampering basket for her with chocolate, bath fizzies, and a fun book. Offer to watch her kids so she can go get a pedicure or go out for coffee on her own.

If you or a friend is feeling blue this Christmas, it is okay. Even though it is supposed to be a season of joy and hope, it’s okay to not feel that way. Let yourself grieve and cry. Take time for yourself when you feel overwhelmed. Talk to someone who understands. Don’t be afraid to simplify or get away during Christmas. 

Even though the crisis has mostly gone for me, it has still been a difficult year of transitions and changes in my life. I need a simple Christmas this year. I need to get away. And I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of my family. My hope is that I can do less of the unnecessary things about Christmas like gifts, special food, and parties. That leaves time for more of the important things like making fun memories with my family, remembering the reason for Christmas, and being thankful in the midst of trial. I hope this has encouraged you too, dear mom who is feeling blue. 

It’s okay to not be okay this Christmas. Let this Christmas be filled with tears, love, and lots and lots of grace for yourself, if that is what you need.