when christmas is hard.

Oh, this time of year! Some people love it, some people hate it.  There are so many things tied to the time from Thanksgiving to not just Christmas but also the start of a new year.  It brings to light the reality of losses, financial pressures, broken relationships, shame, family brokenness or non-existedness, faith shifts, depression, and dreams that keep on not coming true.

You name it–this season stirs it up.

I wrote a series a few years ago called “When Christmas is Hard” and thought I’d share it again this week. I’ve got a lot of friends hanging on by a thread right now physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I noticed that I said “Christmas is hard” at least 10 times in conversations today.  Tomorrow night is our Blue Christmas gathering at The Refuge; I wish we could do it online but it’s just one of those things that requires “being there.” We have 8 experiential stations that give a place to get in touch with what’s really going on inside and gather some hope, ranging from loss & comfort to unlocking the good to hand massages to anger (breaking ornaments) and other loveliness.

Meanwhile here are the “When Christmas is Hard” posts if you or someone you know can use them:

One more that might resonate in this same theme, too:

I’ll close with part of this Blue Christmas Prayer from Coffehouse Contemplative I stumbled on this week that I think is really lovely.  You can read the whole prayer here. I adapted some of the “they’s” that were in the prayer to “we’s” because I know a lot of us are feeling some of these things right now in different ways.

A Blue Christmas Prayer 

Around us, O God, the singing can be heard: ‘Joy to the world…let heaven and nature sing.’ This season is to be one of hope eases our minds, when peace soothes our hearts, when love warms our souls, and when joy comes each morning.

But there are many of us who do not feel this joy. Some might try, others have given up trying. ‘Where is this joy for us?’ we ask. The world has found joy but some feel as if it has passed us by. Our minds are not at ease…we feel too much doubt. Our hearts are not at peace…there is too much to do. Our souls are not warmed…the chill of death is too troubling. Where, O God, can joy be found? We ask this as we come before you in prayer, opening ourselves to the possibility that hope, peace, joy, and love might still come to us.

We pray for the lonely, that we might find comfort in another’s touch.

We pray for the downtrodden, that we might find relief from our burdens.

We pray for those wrestling with depression, that a light of calm might bring us peace.

We pray for those dealing with stress, that we might find the courage to let go.

We pray for the grief-stricken, that we might experience the newness of life that you bring.

May joy come to the world, O God, and may we grasp some of that. We do not pray for joy that is temporary or fleeting, but a joy that runs deep and sustains us even in moments of despair. We seek this joy in a season that can be less than joyful.

O God, hear our prayer. 


peace from colorado, kathy

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Wish I knew some of the exercises you mention from the Blue Christmas event…I have a friend who could really use stuff like that right now…thank you for posting…

  • Thanks for sharing this, Kathy. I enjoy Christmas a lot at a certain level, but at another level holidays have been hard since faith-shifting. At first, I pretty much just focused on the trappings in order to get through, while wishing for the meaning, and perhaps “inspiration,” that I used to find. This year I am thinking a lot about what meaning I do find, even though it’s not the same. I am thinking, as always, about the seasons, and about how I really believe deep down that light always returns after darkness. I am thinking about birth, and what God might be bringing to birth in my life. I am even thinking (bear with me) about one of my miscarriages–how I found out the baby was dead and had to wait for a month before going into labor and giving birth–and how sometimes the birth that we need is a blessed finally letting go of something that you treasured but that isn’t alive any more. And I’m thinking about incarnation, and how God either showing up in my life or through me to someone else might look really different than what I expected or looked for or even wanted. So, those are my Christmas thoughts this year. Love to you and all your big family at the refuge.

  • Expectations. Christmas is so wrapped up with expectations, with memories, with the ways we’d like it to be. We find that many of our friends need us the most after Christmas. That’s often when not only the weather but also life in general seems bleakest for them. Jesus kinda gets lost for many people in the craziness of Christmas.

  • Kathy, I have done this prep with my community for years around what I like to call the Bermuda Triangle of Holidays…Thanksgiving, Christmas and closely on it’s tail New Years. No matter how far along I seem to get, the reminder that I’m not alone and Christmas is hard is always useful. I have been posting these Seasonal Survival Guides recently. Maybe it will be helpful, as well

    • thanks for sharing these, i somehow missed them….i love that “i am enough” one and just gave that to some dear friends yesterday in a little frame 🙂 so good. can’t wait to see you next month!

      • I need the reminders as much as the next person and the more I read and write about it the more it sinks in, I AM ENOUGH! Can’t wait to see you in Jan!!!

  • Oh Blue Christmas was so incredibly lovely this year. This season is hard, and some years are just brutal. I wouldn’t sue that word this year, but the grief bursts have been surprising in their intensity.
    I think for me what is hard about the season is often the times where the grief is simply blindsiding. Comments made off hand about family traditions, the commercials about no place like home, the advertisements for big hoopla church celebrations that scream at you to HAVE JOY just are hard.
    I think it is so hard to feel like nothing short of making my own is going to make me feel like I *truly* belong, and are not just needed. It is getting easier feeling like if you haven’t ditched me yet,…. haha. #attached #almostvalentinesday #waitwhat

  • Haven’t looked at the blogs I love for a week or so and read yours today Kathy. Right after I too had written a blog on the same thing. So wish I could see your Blue Christmas. Thank you for recognizing how many are hurting.

    • thanks missy, what’s the link to yours? i need to figure out a way to share some of these things that we do better but most everything is so experiential it just can’t be re-created very well 🙂 peace to you from across the miles.


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