Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Avoiding the Post-Christmas Blues

Christmas is now over and we are well into 2010. What about all those New Year's resolutions we made a couple weeks ago? We resolved to lose weight, to exercise more, to eat healthier foods, to be a better person, to stop our old bad habits, etc. But how many of you will keep any of these? Better yet, how many of you have ever kept a New Year's resolution? Here's mine for 2010: Eat more and exercise less. Why this one? That's because it's the only one I'm confident I can keep.

Here are some other actual unique resolutions I found on the internet:

I resolve to stop feeding the office plant leftover coffee and use water instead.

I resolve to try and get a law passed that requires every person on the face of the earth to use their common sense at least once a day.

I resolve to try real hard to stop eating meals from fast food resturants for 2 out of 3 meals a day.

I resolve to become as wonderful a person as my dog thinks I am.

I resolve to never take responsibility for my decisions, to never take the blam, to not stand by my promises, and to ignore the needs of the poor. In short, I resolve to become a politican.

That's the problem with resolutions; they are just too hard to keep so you might as well make some ridiculous ones or none at all.

As we get ready for the New Year, how can we be sure that the next year will be better than the one we just had? More importantly, how can we keep the Christmas spirit alive through this year?

When I was a kid, I remember two of my favorite songs that were played on the local rock and roll radio station (and yes I said "rock and roll" not rock!) were sung by Elvis Presley. It's not that I'm that big a Elvis fan, it was just that I happened to really love these two songs. One was "Blue Christmas". The other, however, was the one I liked the most. It asked the following question - Why can't everyday be like Christmas? The words went something like this:

"Why can't everyday be like Christmas? Why can't we keep that joy eternally? For if everyday was just like Christmas, what a wonderful world it would be!"

Well, why can't everyday be like Christmas? Have you ever wondered why January just seems to drag on or why all those New Year's resolutions go unmet? Why the joy you had at Christmas just fades away after the tree comes down? Afterall, Christmas is all about joy. We even sing "REJOICE, REJOICE" and "JOY TO THE WORLD". Yet "joy" doesn't last very long - sometimes not even long enough to return all those ugly ties.

Here's the truth - most people really do have a hard time keeping that Christmas high once the New Year begins. We call this the Post-Christmas Blues. In fact it can get so bad that people need professional help. Studies show that while most people suffer from a Post-Christmas let down, a significant number, 26%, of people suffer a condition known as post holiday blues that is serious enough to warrant taking special action. That's over one fourth of the population! So if you struggle with a big let down after the holiday season, you're not alone. Why is that? One of the major reasons is we confuse the joy of Christmas with the happiness of the event of Christmas. Then when it is over, the realities of living our daily lives takes over. We return to the same routine as we had before. We get into the same rut that we were in before the holidays. That's the problem with happiness - it depends on something external. If we want to keep the joy of Christmas all year long, then we must insure it is joy that we have at Christmas, not happiness.

Over the next several weeks I am going to present to you three things that will help all of us avoid the Post-Christmas Blues and to find joy during 2010 - three things that will help us to avoid returning to the same old rut that we were in during 2009. We have a new year, so we need to have a new beginning. A beginning that will last!

In Philippians 3:12-14, Paul outlines how believers should focus on reaching forward, letting go, and reaching the important goal. In other words, focusing on what is really important. From this passage we find that in order to keep that Christmas feeling and avoid the Post-Christmas Blues in 2010 requires us to do three very important things: learn how to value our time in the new year; release ourselves from the junk of the past year; and set new and important priorities for this new year. We will address this first item next week and the other two a few weeks thereafter. So stay tuned!

Dr. Richard Tompkins