Originally published Tuesday, 09 December 2014.
Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I love hot cocoa, Christmas decorations, Christmas music, snuggling under a blanket watching Christmas movies, egg nog, parties, and all the traditions that Christmas brings. I love seeing family and friends that I haven't seen in a while. I love the reminder of childhood memories with aunts and cousins baking pies in the kitchen.
But, let's be honest. Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of year for many, and especially for single parents.
My first Christmas as a single mom is one of my saddest memories. My infant son and I spent the day alone. I was a brand new mom and I struggled to find my way. Could I even be a good mom? I often wondered. I stared at my baby most of the day, as I laid in bed and cried. The phone didn't ring. No one knocked at my door. I couldn't bear to cook a Christmas meal for just the two of us. And depression doesn't even seem to be an adequate word to describe how sad I was that day. I almost yearned to go to work to interact with another adult.
I would love to say that was my only Christmas alone or Thanksgiving or Easter or Valentines. I spent many holidays as a single mom. And frankly, many of them were sad. I want to encourage all you single moms out there not to make the same mistake I did. Those holidays were often spent with me dwelling on the things I didn't have. I was convinced everyone had a better life than me and I was angry. I wondered why my children had to suffer through not having two parents in their home. I was sad that I had little money to provide Christmas toys. I decidedly huddled under my covers and prayed the days away.
Here are the things I wish I would've done all those years ago:
1. Choose to focus on what God has given you. Maybe things didn't turn out like you planned. Whose life ever does? God has blessed you beyond measure. Start with the cross. If God never did anything else for us, wouldn't that be enough? Be He doesn't stop there. He gives us our beautiful, amazing children, our jobs, residence, friends, health, family, church family, and a single mom sisterhood through The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. God is good, faithful, and provisional. Praise Him this season!
2. Choose to rejoice in the real reason for the season. Focus on Christ's birth. Read the Christmas story to your kids, no matter their ages. Create traditions with them, such as baking cookies, make ornaments for a nursing home, serving at a soup kitchen. Decide to focus on the real meaning for the season through service to others and family traditions. It makes the holidays a far more special time.
3. Choose to focus on the freedom Christ has given you. May I be totally honest with you? Christ paid for my freedom oh so many years ago, but I refused to walk in it. You see, it was my choice to be bitter, unforgiving, and angry. It was my choice to play the victim and wonder why I had endured so much. It was only when I stopped speaking terrible things over my life and when I chose to move beyond my past that I embraced Christ's freedom for my life. I chose life. I chose freedom. That's when I truly learned to celebrate each holiday season and each day for that matter. My perspective in life shifted. Joy was then mine. It can be yours this day.
Jennifer Maggio is the happily married mother of three who has a passion for the single parent family. The founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine, Maggio spends many of her days praying for and counseling with single mothers nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com