When Christmas is a Mixed Bag


A couple of weeks ago I couldn’t imagine writing this blog post

But here I am…so I thought I’d keep it real. The last two weeks have been mixed – to say the least.

  • Dec 1- 4  We went to So Cal to visit my 93 year-old father who has lung cancer, and my husband’s 97 year-old father who was on hospice. Traveling with all my oxygen equipment is super tiring for me
  • Dec 6  My husband’s father passed away
  • Dec 7  My husband had a total hip replacement as an out patient procedure (had surgery at 7:30 and was home by 2:00). I’ve been his caregiver and it was exhausting for me physically, especially the first few days. We’ve had a nurse or physical therapy visit at home almost every day. Imagine me carting around my oxygen everywhere helping my hubby on a walker. Not a pretty site
  • Dec 8  My sister-in-law had surgery – Praise, she’s doing fine
  • Dec 15  My sister had surgery – Praise, she’s doing fine
  • Dec 17  My uncle passed away

There have been positives too…

  • We’re so glad we were able to see Dave’s Dad before he passed away
  • Friends brought us meals
  • Family members helped with lots of needs
  • My hubby is recovering very quickly. He abandoned his walker and is already using a cane. Because he’s doing so well, I’m not quite as exhausted.

All this to say…this year, Christmas is a mixed bag for us. The good is mixed with grief, exhaustion and mounds of things undone.


But some things haven’t changed:

  • The wonder of Christ’s birth
  • His warmth, provision and care for us
  • The company of friends and loved ones
  • The assurance we are safely in His Hands

I’m sure many of you can relate to this time of year being mixed, even though your circumstances may be different. Grief, family conflicts, financial hardships and unrealistic expectations are common contributors to mixed experiences at Christmas.

So, our strategy for the rest of this season is to allow our grief and tiredness while caring for ourselves and soaking in the blessings around us:

  • Beautiful lights
  • Reflecting on Christ’s birth and Hope in Him
  • Cuddling up with blankets and watching Christmas movies
  • Reading good books
  • Listening to Christmas music
  • Trying to rest
  • Looking for unexpected blessings

I think the key is to be real and present with whatever aspects are true for you

It takes maturity to hold both realities at the same time…grief and goodness; disappointments and blessings; stress and trust in God. We need to fight against the tendency to see things as all good or all bad. It’s possible and healthy to notice the struggles while also noticing the good.

How about you? I would love your input!

How do you handle the ups and downs of Christmas? What resonated with you? How can you care for yourself in kind ways this season?

Please leave your comments below and share on social media or via e-mail with others who might benefit!








16 thoughts on “When Christmas is a Mixed Bag

  1. December 20
    Kim writes a blog post!
    Please enjoy some rest in the rest of the season. Thank you for blessing my life in 2016!

  2. Gosh, Kim. First I want to acknowledge what a crazy month you’ve had. That’s a lot of stress in a very short span of time. Your message has encouraged me. Especially the part about embracing (my word) both realities at the same time. There is a combination of wonder and stress at any one moment. What’s helps me most is self care. When I’m overly tired or feeling resentful or angry I step back and check in with myself then make adjustments (like taking things off my list or rethinking why I’m doing something or just do something nice for myself :-). Also, I’ve learned to shorten the season into a few impactful weeks. I celebrate Advent to keep focused on the season. Most importantly, I keep my expectations of others in check. I try not to set myself up for disappointment, while focusing on the good in my life and in my family. I allow myself to cry when grief hits and truly enjoy special moments when they happen. Finally, I get up very early on Dec 26th and take all the decor down and put everything away! Ahhhhhhhhh!

    1. Hi Cecilia! Thanks for your encouragement. I’m so glad this post struck a chord and was helpful. I LOVED the ideas you shared for self-care. Excellent, we can all learn from. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us! Merry Christmas!

  3. As always you INSPIRE me. Your point that this “season” is a mixed bag is the absolute truth. It is just another area where the world around us (movies, tv, facebook, etc.) leads us to believe that everyone is experiencing nothing but loving and joyfully events just because it is Christmas. I love your strategies toward being in the reality of the mixed bag. My heart is with you and your husband as you both heal, physically (the surgery) and emotionally. As you know as a therapist so much of the time spent with clients during this time is focused on their dread of spending time with family, or a first Christmas missing loved ones who are no longer with them or grieving wounds from holidays past. While at the same time this season is lovely in so many way; love expressed between friends, the fun of time making new memories and most of all the glorious truth of our Savior’s birth. I too struggle with mixed bag of the season and frequently have to remind myself of these exact strategies and few of my own. Kim, I just want to say that you are a true blessing that God placed on the path of my journey! I know that may sound trite but it is the truth from the depths from my heart. prayers and love from my little heart to yours.

    1. So great to hear from you Pam! I appreciate you sharing from a therapists perspective the many stresses people feel relationally around this time. Sometimes we don’t know how common these feelings are. Thanks for your very kind words that God has blessed you through me. Wow, can’t ask for more than that 🙂 It was a pleasure to teach you as a counseling student, and a joy to see you ministering to others through your many gifts as a therapist. Merry Christmas! Thanks for taking the time to encourage me.

    1. Thanks so much Erin…sometimes when it rains, it pours! We’re doing better each day. Appreciate your prayers and encouragement. Merry Christmas!

  4. I so needed this message…in fact I think I’ll share it with my family on Christmas Eve! The part about holding the blessings with the losses….both realities at the same time….I realllllly needed to be reminded of this! I’ve started doing what I’ve done in the past under extreme stress, which is isolate, escape, eat bad food, etc. It doesn’t help.
    My Dad has a rare cancer and is in the Hospice program now. It’s been heart-breaking seeing him decline. We are hoping he makes it through the month. With all the major transitions and changes I’ve been thru over the last 6 months, I can imagine how crazy the last few weeks have been for you…oh my goodness Kim!! THANK YOU for continuing to share your wisdom and your story to encourage others. So sorry for the loss of your Dad and other family members!
    God Bless You and I will pray for continued healing for Dave’s hip!

    1. Dear Trinity…thanks so much for what you shared. You are dealing with so much…so indescribably difficult to see your Dad declining and in hospice. I’m so sorry for your pain, and all your family is going through. I’m so glad the reminder to hold the blessings with the losses was helpful to you…that is probably most important for you right now. I am so glad you were able to realize the old habits you fell into, and can shift to self-care strategies that work better for you. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. I’m sending prayers your way too.

  5. Dear Kim,
    I had no idea that you and Dave were going through so much on top of everything else you have currently. Your faith and testimony to God’s goodness in every circumstance is powerful. You are a contagious Christian!
    I am saddened by the losses of Dave’s dad and your uncle, but thankful that you were able to visit with both of your dads while in southern California. Also, praises for Dave’s successful surgery and amazing recovery, and for the successful surgery for your sister and sister-in-law.
    May God’s peace and provision continue to fall softly around you this Christmas season and throughout the New Year.
    Prayers cover you and your family, as always.
    You are loved, you know!

  6. Kim!
    What a time you’ve had!
    Hope/pray you will both have a sustained period now for a bit to rest and recover and allow space for grieving and reflection.
    God bless you both with His marvellous PEACE.
    Nothing in my life compares.
    Thank you for continuing to bless and encourage so many of us.
    I have a friend reading your book right now 🙂
    Merry quiet peaceful Christmas!

  7. Oh Kim, you are such in inspiration in strength and grace. Thank you for being real and sharing your life and insight . I have watched my mom and dad for so many years on oxygen so I know the fatigue and extra work that go with that.
    This has been an extremely challenging month for me also, so I really appreciate the advice on how to not only survive but to find pockets of peace and joy .
    May next year be less eventful for you.
    Merry Christmas 🎄

  8. Thought this Christmas might have been wonderful for the first time since my precious Sister passed away (6yrs on 2 Jan next) but the man I love is not back from overseas and I’m still not sure when he will be. I was so looking forward to some time with him this Christmas but, as usual, left to my own devices which include lots of tears for my Sister, my late Parents and my main man. At this minute all I’ve done tonight is cry tears to the Lord, but decided to check your blog Kim so I’m encouraged to say thank you Lord for being on my side even at my worst. I know things are new every morning and for now that has to be enough but I will make a couple of Christmas cards tomorrow and spend a lot of the Christmas period with my nose in my Bible. God bless your ministry Kim, comfort your grief and light your home and hearts with his Peace.

  9. Perfect for this holiday season. God speaks so mightily through you, in triumphs, in trials, in the day to day life you live for Him. I’m sending this blog link to everyone I know. Miss you but so thankful for your emails, blogs, and continual inspiration through social media. Prayers and hugs for you and your family through this season.

    1. Hi Tammy! So nice to hear from you. I’m so delighted this blog post was so helpful. So appreciate your encouragement and prayers. Take Good Care, Kim

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