The Spirit of the Season

“Tis the season” is a phrase that’s often heard during the holiday months, especially around Christmas. It’s a phrase that carries a sense of anticipation, joy, and celebration. It is a time when Christians worldwide celebrate the incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God, who came to Earth to bring salvation to humanity.

In a broader sense, “tis the season” symbolizes a time when Christians come together in their communities and churches to share the joy of Christ’s birth. It’s a season of unity and fellowship.

The Christmas season encourages acts of kindness and charity, reflecting the love and giving nature of Jesus. Christians often use this time to reach out to those in need and show God’s love through their actions.

It is important, however, to realize that not everyone will be in the Christmas spirit during the holidays. Unfortunately, this time of year for many is a time of stress and great sadness.

Even though it might be difficult at times to feel “jolly” during the holidays, we can always have joy in our hearts knowing that Jesus, who is God in the flesh, came down from heaven to be born as a baby and to grow up and save us from our sins. Jesus truly humbled Himself in order to bring us back to Him.

The inspiration for this post came from a recent and lengthy conversation with my sister, Theresa. My younger sister, who wears many hats in helping those in need, has always been a care giver. As a mother raising her children, as a daughter taking care of our mother when she was ill before her passing, and for the past several years helping her community at large.

She started “Helping Hands,” a 501-C-3 Non-profit organization, staffed entirely by local volunteers. In addition to its Food Pantry, Helping Hands offers several other Senior & Family Services. And as if she wasn’t busy enough, she had just completed a series of classes on suicide prevention and wanted to share some of what she had learned.

This isn’t the first time (nor will it be the last), that I have learned a thing or two from my little sister and I feel compelled to share some of our conversation on how you can lift someone’s spirit and perhaps even save a life.

When we’re around someone who’s feeling down, it’s natural to immediately want to start comforting them by giving them a hug, offering them something to eat, or trying to help them solve whatever problem is making them upset. But trying to come up with the best solution to their problem may not be the answer.

So, what can we do? Just listen to them! Most of the time, people just want to know someone is willing to hear their perspective. However, just sitting next to them while they talk isn’t enough. If you want to avoid them feeling like they’re talking to a brick wall, make eye contact and be an active listener, which is where you make a concerted effort to comprehend and retain what you hear. It shows you’re invested in what they say and that you care.

While the best approach to lifting someone’s spirits is unique to their situation and personality, a few proven phrases are universally effective in providing consolation to a friend, a loved one or a stranger.

Asking if someone needs help is one of the first reactions we usually have when we see someone struggling. It lets people know you’re willing to support them, especially when you ask how you can help rather than just offering assistance. But don’t be discouraged if they say no. Sometimes, a person might want you to listen, but they don’t need you to take any action.

Have you ever felt pressure to “act the part” when you feel unsure and uncomfortable about something? If so, you know what it’s like to feel like you have to hide your feelings to get through a situation. Telling someone that it’s okay not to be okay validates their feelings and struggles, letting them know they don’t need to pretend they’re fine when they aren’t.

“I love you” is one of the most important things you can say to someone you value. Love is essential to the success of both platonic and romantic relationships. Oxytocin, known as the love hormone, like endorphins or serotonin, is a type of hormone in your body that promotes positive feelings. It makes you feel secure and calm—lifting your spirit. However, these three words aren’t something to throw around lightly. If you love someone, mean it.

I’m here for you is one of the most common things to say to lift someone’s spirits. In some ways, this phrase is more impactful than saying “I love you” because it represents a more tangible feeling of support. Telling someone you’re there for them lets them know that you’ll show up in times of trouble, giving them confidence that you’re a reliable person to count on.

Nothing is worse than feeling like someone’s support is conditional, like when they tell you how to act, feel, or think to please or earn their love. Emphasizing that your support isn’t dependent on any of those things helps lift a person’s spirits because they know you accept them just as they are.

Regardless of what’s upsetting a person, distraction is usually the first coping mechanism people turn to, to temporarily shift their attention away from their troubles. When you offer to spend time with them, whether that’s doing an activity they like, going for a cup of coffee or sharing a meal with them, you’re giving them a mental break from the distressing thoughts or emotions they’re experiencing.

Do you have a friend who’s always doing thoughtful things for you?  It makes you feel valued, like the person cares about your well-being. Expressing your gratitude for someone who helps you validates their actions, strengthens the bond between you two and lifts their spirits. Although it seems like a simple act of appreciation, it can go a long way in making someone feel valued and respected when they’re feeling down.

A little praise is always good, especially when dealing with depression, anxiety or stress. High amounts of stress can wear on a person, making it hard to remain motivated to do what you need to get done. When you say you’re proud of a friend, you give them the encouragement and affirmation they need to boost their confidence.

For many people, their faith helps to improve their mental health. In times of stress, prayer opens the door to ease overwhelming sadness. Prayer is also a means of supporting others, so letting your loved ones, friends and even strangers, know you’re praying for them is comforting and uplifting.

Another simple way to lift someone’s spirits is to ask them if they need other types of support besides conversation and comfort. Whether that’s helping them find a therapist, buying them groceries or giving them a ride somewhere, alleviating stressful tasks off someone’s plate (within reason) can make it easier for them to process their emotions.

The reason for the season is all about Jesus, because it is the beautiful truth of Jesus’ birth into the dark world. It is truly the season of love, peace, and kindness because the Lord extended all of these qualities to us when He came to die for the sins of the world.

I would imagine that from God’s perspective, it’s always the season to focus on the values of our faith. not just when we’re singing Christmas carols, gazing at holiday lights, or baking Christmas cookies.

We can help others generously anytime. God calls us to use our talents, time, energy, and money to serve people in need regularly – not only during the holidays. It’s the same with every value we celebrate at Christmas.

“Tis the season” is more than just a catchy phrase; it’s a reminder of the profound Christian significance of the Christmas season. It encapsulates the anticipation, joy, and celebration that comes with the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. As we embrace this time of year, let us remember the true reason for the season and spread the message of love, hope, and salvation that Jesus brought to the world.

The Magnificat
Easter & the Moveable Feasts