Parenting

Leading Your Family Out of the Post Holiday Blues

byChris Lynch

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child opening a present in front of a Christmas tree

Well, Christmas is behind us. You know what that means. Letdowns are on the way. After a month of revisiting festive traditions, breaks from work, enjoying carols, parties, presents, and (hopefully in most cases) wonderful time with family and friends, it’s all about to end. We’ve got one more brief break, one more celebration, one more gathering to enjoy finger food and count down the minutes to the new year, then it’s the long cold expanse of winter—the beginning of another long year.

The holiday letdown can take its toll on families. Kids are crashing from their sugar high. Perhaps those gifts they thought for sure would bring true satisfaction actually aren’t. Or maybe they’re just grouchy. (Parents can be grouchy too.) Now it’s time to return to work with little to look forward to (other than tax season, of course). Yep, the post-holiday blues are a real thing.

As dads, we have a golden opportunity amidst these gloomy days to direct our families to reasons for joy and anticipation. Indeed, it’s more than an opportunity; it’s a responsibility. The holidays can be fun, but so can every day. Here are five simple “mind-setters” that can lead our families to say, “Look at what we get to do next!”

1. We get the gift of a new year!

This one may be simple, but it’s important. A new year represents the freshness of each day God gives us. His mercy, grace, and faithfulness are renewed with each new day (Lamentations 3:22-24). Each new day is made by him and is reason for joy (Psalm 118:24). Our lives and everything in them are gifts from a good God and meant to be enjoyed (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25; James 1:17).

We get to enjoy learning about God’s greatness and goodness every day! Thanksgiving and Christmas are times when we are particularly focused on God’s great gifts. And that’s appropriate! But those reasons to make his great deeds on our behalf a focus don’t go away as the calendar continues on. This is one of the reasons why Moses commanded Israelite parents to speak daily of the truths about God to their children (Deuteronomy 6). Focusing on his good commands and great acts toward us helps us love him more!

All that is true for every day, and it’s true for every new year, too. As the calendar turns on January 1, remind your family that in God’s reality, this is just the first day of 365 new, joyous, gracious, useful gifts from the One who loves all of you so much!

2. We get to remember the blessings of this past month!

Rejecting the post-holiday blues doesn’t mean completely moving on from a focus on the holidays, though! I’d argue that looking back on all the blessings you just enjoyed as a family is a great way to counter that letdown. Rather than missing or longing for the return of the wonderful times of encouragement, joyous celebrations, good fun, and precious moments with those we love, your family should praise God for them!

Deuteronomy 8 is one of my favorite chapters in all of God’s Word. It’s one big encouragement for God’s people to remember. Think back on the good gifts God has already given. Keep all he has done for you in focus. Lead your family in thinking of all you’ve just enjoyed over the past month as gifts from God—because that’s what they are. “Forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2). Don’t forget the blessings of the earthly joys, the protection, and all the other good things he provides that we so often take for granted. Holiday blessings are certainly good examples of that!

3. We get to enjoy the gift of Jesus everyday!

Of course, the greatest holiday blessing of all is found in the whole reason Christmas exists. “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”(2 Corinthians 9:15) That gift is Christ himself. But the gift of Christ is something that must impact our family far more than simply around Christmas time. We get to enjoy all his benefits all year long.

Some of those benefits include… forgiveness through him, the gift of his perfect example, the gift of peace before God and access to him, the gift of being clothed in his righteousness before God, the gift of victory over sin, the gift of knowing him personally the gift of his Spirit to enable us to look like him, the gift of his constant presence removing all fear, and the gift of eternal security through him––and that’s just listing a few!

Colossians 2:6–7 tells us that the gift of Jesus is literally the centerpiece of every day that we walk on this earth. And it’s reason to be “abounding in thanksgiving.” The one born in Bethlehem is our joy and purpose all year long!

4. We get to be a part of Jesus’ story everyday!

This is pretty great, too! At Christmas time, children often ponder the Christmas story and wish they had been there to see it unfold—to be a part of it. Well, dads, you can remind them that they are a part of that story! The birth of Jesus began a story that is still being told. It’s the story of God’s loving redemption of sinful man so that they could be close to him again. And we’re still living that story!

Our families live as part of that story whenever we study the Bible together. We live it whenever we participate and serve in our local church. We live it whenever we worship him. We live it whenever we interact with our unsaved neighbors. We’re living in Jesus’ story! And we’ve got a whole year ahead to live in it consciously and intentionally as a family.

5. We get to look forward to Easter!

What we celebrate at Christmas finds its climax at Easter. Christ was born to die and rise again. His incarnation led to his victory through the cross and the empty tomb. 1 Corinthians 15:17–20 reminds us that if Jesus had not risen, then our hope and faith would be in vain, and we’d still be doomed in sin. We may feel miserable after the holidays, but Paul says that without the resurrection, we’d be miserable indeed! We’d be in a pitiable state. But he has risen, so our hope and joy and eternal life are all fully secure. No reason to be down in the dumps here!

So we can encourage our families to look forward to Easter itself—for the opportunity to have a holiday to celebrate Jesus again! But we must also lead them to find joy every single day in what Easter represents. To rejoice not just in his coming, but also in the completion of his work for us.

Dads, look at what we get to do and experience and focus on and find joy in moving forward! Remind your families of this, and chase away those post-holiday blues with the gift of a new year ahead walking with Jesus together.

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