A: Your question includes a lot, but thank you for putting all of that into words, for many struggle with at least some of what your question involves. Here are a few suggestions …
– ” Holiday cheer” is an impossible expectation for some who are dealing with a major loss (death of a loved one, divorce, loss of property or employment, or other disappointments). If you are dealing with sadness, be honest with yourself and find yourself either a personal counselor or support group that deals with loss. Check your church and community calendars to find people and groups that can help.
– The coming of winter hits a significant portion of the population hard, with the proportion of darkness increasing and daylight decreasing. Having the celebration of Jesus’ birth to be remembered in mid-to-late December was originally designed to deal with the whole idea of God’s victory of light over darkness represented in the coming of the true light, Jesus Christ. Allow this message of Advent to point you to that eternal hope that overcomes the forces of sin forever (John 1:11).
– Commercialism and consumerism point out a form of idolatry in our Western culture that we can circumvent by emphasizing giving to others. This year, “go against the grain” of culture and ask those you love to give in your honor to organizations that give “a cup of cold water” to the thirsty in Jesus’ name and minister to “the least of these.”
– a “hyper focus on family” suggests that you may be single or may have family members who are difficult to relate to. Give yourself permission to find your “faith family” as Jesus did. He told the crowds that his “mother, brothers and sisters” were those who did the will of God. Step out of your comfort zone to “do life” with fellow believers who can be family to you.