It’s safe to say that pretty much everyone is ready for the end of the year, but we have one more holiday to get through first. The one that has so many meanings to so many people. Yes, Christmas; the most misunderstood, stressful, and risky. This holiday affects me in all of the Big 4; Christianity, alcoholism, mental illness, and homosexuality. I always dread going into this holiday because of all the implications it could have on me. Will I forget to acknowledge the true meaning of Christmas? How many events will I go to that there will be alcohol? How will my mind handle the stress and anxiety of all the expectations surrounding this day? How many ‘Clobber Passage’ zealots will I be able to avoid before one of them throws one of those scriptures at me?

Unfortunately it’s not always carried out with acknowledgment to the days true meaning. Christmas has a tendency to bring out the worst in people. A lot of people are thinking they might not have spent enough to impress the relative or friend, if they can get the biggest show of acknowledgment to boost their ego, etc. An even greater set of people are disregarding the true meaning of that day.

As society we have turned Christmas into a materialistic venture instead of one of humility that mirrors Christs own life, in celebration of his life. Instead we have chosen to idolize a false notion of the entire season and a fabricated caricature who brings you things. It is a wholly selfish day now where people are either accustomed to associating this day with what they can get from others, and if they can be better than someone else.

I’m not innocent of this in my past. I had this exact same thought-flow before I handed my life over to God. I look back now and see how naive and oblivious I was when I had the same notions towards this day like so many others. I didn’t disbelieve, but I didn’t acknowledge the significance in any great way either. I had blinders on. Now that I have found God and practice my faith as diligently as I can, I celebrate in the true meaning of this day. The man who would soon sacrifice his life for ALL of us was born 2017 years ago this Sunday.

Remember the true meaning of Christmas; faith, praise, thankfulness, celebration, unity, giving.

Booze abound this time of year. Whether it be for self-medicating reasons because people need liquid courage to deal with that crazy aunt, or to drown out difficult emotions surrounding the holiday, or because every single party has free flowing bars and carts. Whatever the case may be, it is necessary to place your sobriety in the foreground because of all the temptation and triggers the holidays bring.

I have so many memories of drinking around the holidays, not all pretty. It seemed so natural to drink socially. If there was alcohol around, I drank because I didn’t want to be the ungrateful guest who didn’t partake. That, or that I was feeding my addiction. Either way, I always found an excuse to drink and celebrate the holidays. Because I have a stance of abstentionism, I advocate for sober holidays. Becoming inebriated means you are fogging up your connection to God. This means you will disregard the true meaning of the day when it is most important.

We need to be fully present in order to thank God for His son and also show thanks to Christ who died for us so that we may have a clean slate. Don’t be rude by cutting off that awesome opportunity to praise God for the ultimate gift.

As if the holidays weren’t already stressful and trying as is, we need to be extra adamant about mental health this time of year. The season is full of triggers that could easily push you one way or the other. I have had holidays where I have been pushed into a manic episode, depressive episode, or both. It is such an unpredictable time of year. From crowds of people shopping, to dinners with your family and friends, to the unneeded pressure to perform, and more.

One of the biggest things I used during these times was my ability to just leave the situation I was in. Whether it be by leaving all together if I could, or to find a place to hideout to cool down, focus, and/or pray for help. Escaping and reentering yourself can work wonders on the mind. Prepare ahead of time by having a plan of action for many scenarios. That way when something is thrown your way you can easily recognize the trigger and dig into your toolbox of plans and put it in action.

Remember, you only have to impress God and yourself. The others have their own path to take.

This can be the most difficult time for the LGBT community. Holidays that celebrate or acknowledge someone or something of Christian significance, it tends to bring out ‘Clobber Passage’ zealots. None more so than the birthday of Jesus, the one who died for us ALL. There is this air of confidence that people suddenly find. There is this need to tell people about their sins and how they need to live there life. This hits the LGBT community hard because people always seem to use the ‘Clobber Passages’ at any given opportunity, and why not now during one of the most holy days of the year.

People tend to cherry pick or read scriptures out of context and then use their own individual understanding of them to use for their own purposes. They are often used in negative ways against others simply because they don’t agree with, or understand, you or how you are the way you are. Thankfully there are some level headed people out there who read in context and actively work to understand scripture and use in a positive way that is accepting to all.

The Bible does not say homosexuality itself is a sin. However, it does reference certain events that were immoral and it happened to be between two men or two women. Rape, sodomy, sexual slavery, promiscuity. Anyone can agree that those things are immoral and clearly sinful in nature. It never says same-sex attraction and action between to consenting parties who are committed and monogamous is sinful.

Remember, Christ died because he loved us ALL, not just some.