when Christmas is hard…

Blogging has been on the back-burner for me in this past season, and I miss you guys! I just haven’t been in the right head space to write, and honestly, waking up to hearing the realities of another mass shooting, this one at a disability center, just makes me so sick and all words fall flat.  Eventually, some of the things I’ve been processing in my head and heart over the past few months will tumble out here, but before too much time goes by in December I wanted to acknowledge the difficulty of this time of year for so many.

My Facebook feed is a mix of people who are happy about Christmas and the celebration of the upcoming birth of Jesus and others who are hanging on by a thread this time of year.

Yesterday, I was out to lunch with a dear friend. We talked for almost two hours about all kinds of hard, painful life things, our crazy brains, and what a freaking mess we feel like so much of the time. When we were leaving, we were in the bathroom and this woman came up to us and said, “I know this is weird, but just wanted to tell you something. I noticed you both at your table and I thought to myself, ‘they just look so put together.'”  Oh, we burst out laughing!  Nothing could be further from the truth. I told her, “Oh, honey, that’s the joke of life in general–what’s on the outside often has nothing to do what’s going on in the inside. And really, most of us are just big hot messes inside in different ways, thinking we’re the only ones.”

This time of year this becomes even more apparent.

So many are going through the motions, maybe looking okay on the outside, when inside they are struggling with grief, depression, fear, anxiety, loneliness, disorientation that comes with a faith shift and a whole host of other hard things.

Others are visibly struggling and people around them feel bad for feeling the Christmas spirit or want to jar them out of their pain so they can see the hope of this season.

This morning I just wanted to acknowledge that sometimes Christmastime is hard, extra hard.

I have a friend in Denver who is a Catholic priest and he recently shared that Christmastime is a magnifier for everyone but in different ways–for some, it magnifies the good, the happy, the joy.  And for others, it can magnify the hard, the pain, the darkness. 

Instead of writing a new post about it, I’m just going to share some links to old ones that might offer some comfort for whoever needs to feel a little less alone in the midst of this month.

From Sheloves Magazine:

And a few more that came to mind:

  • a blue christmas prayer – From a post similar to this last year with some of the same links on it. I love that prayer.
  • outsiders – This is one of the hardest feelings for people who have an unraveled faith and don’t seem to fit anywhere anymore. Plus, I love this cartoon from David Hayward.
  • pain relief, not pain removal – I forgot about this one, but it’s why we need each other this time of year in an extra way.

Lastly, here are some posts from grief week 18 months ago.  These posts don’t have anything to do with Christmas but they might be helpful somehow, especially the what ifs and if onlys.

Today, the words of Henri Nouwen come to mind, too:

“In our own woundedness, we can become sources of life for others.” 

So many of you are wounded healers–honest, trying-to-hold-on-to-hope, vulnerable friends who can stand alongside others and not offer trite responses but just simple presence, warm hugs, and a “I’m with you.” 

It’s much needed this time of year.

Praying for light, for hope, for peace for all who need a little more of it about now.

Love from Colorado, Kathy


ps: next week is The Refuge’s Blue Christmas gathering. I wish I could figure out a way to share it online but if you are in Denver, come on over.



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.


  • Just very good to “hear” your voice this morning Kathy. Thanks for showing up….again and again. Sending hugs and love. Nita

  • We have been so reminded of the “Christmas is so hard” phenomenon once again this year. We notice it kicking in full force about the weekend before Thanksgiving most years. So many unrealized hopes and the realization that our lives will probably never be what we thought they would be. Whether it’s the lonely folks who sit and watch television and see supposedly perfect (imaginary) families or hear about holiday dinners and parties to which they are never invited, or the folks literally or figuratively living in cold and ugly places, Christmas seems to point out the way we think life “should” be, but rarely is for most of us.

    What can we do? – Kay and I find that recognizing some of the people we know who are having a hard time and making the time to spend some time with them and doing something with them or for them, something that shows we recognize their hard places, makes their holidays a little more bearable for them and us. Buying more stuff to “stuff” into our house is futile. However, there is something to be said for following Jesus’ example and loving others.


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