I have the After-Christmas Blues. My joy gets packed away with all the Christmas decorations. How can I carry the joy of Christmas into next year?
Dear After-Christmas Blues,
It is not uncommon for people to experience depressing thoughts after Christmas. Not only are the beautiful decorations packed away but loved ones also depart, and loneliness can settle in. For some, the extra stress of the bills for gifts, parties and travel are coming due, which adds to the loss of joy.
As believers, we know that the greatest joys of Christmas are derived from giving. To avoid melancholy or depression, choose to carry the giving spirit with you throughout the year.
The spirit of giving
In his wonderful book Knowing God, J.I. Packer wrote:
“The Christmas spirit is the spirit of those, who like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor — spending and being spent — to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others — and not just their own friends — in whatever way there seems need. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things he will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit.”
Years ago, I heard the story of a woman who was so depressed knowing her child planned to marry someone outside of their social class that she ended up hospitalized in a fetal position. A pastor, who knew her well, spoke the Word of God over her and gave her this advice: “Go home, bake brownies, and take them to visit families with a child in a local hospital.” Simple advice — but it worked. It renewed her thinking by serving others.
Giving gets our eyes off ourselves. Jesus emphasized it because He knew it was good for us. The Apostle Paul told the Ephesian elders, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35 ESV).
Giving is good stewardship
This year, the federal government expects to collect about $3.863 trillion in explicit taxes. Nearly $2 trillion will be collected through individual income taxes. If you itemize, charitable giving can reduce what you owe. This is the final day of the year for giving to impact your 2021 taxes. But you can begin the new year with a giving mindset.
There are several ways to make your giving go further. The first is the gift of stocks, bonds and mutual funds. These are growing in popularity because donors can claim the fair market value as an itemized deduction. If they’ve appreciated over time, it’s a win-win for donors and charities. The second is bunching or concentrating deductions in one year then skipping one or more years. Third, establish a donor-advised fund. I recommend The National Christian Foundation. Donors make a contribution and receive an immediate tax deduction, while contributing to charities over time through the fund. The benefit at this point in time is that you get the deduction and have time to pray about where to give your support.
Ask the Lord where to give so you rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit, not your emotions. We are not called to give to every cause or every person who asks us. We are to prioritize, budget and seek wisdom for whom to give to, how long, and when to stop. Do your research. Ministry Watch is a source of information for different organizations.
Now is the time to plan your financial giving for next year so you can budget accordingly. In addition, look for opportunities to give or serve others. Giving does not have to be financial. You can offer your time and talents. Anything you give with proper motives is an investment in eternity. And God loves the cheerful giver! Choose to cultivate the Christmas spirit every day. Bake brownies, visit neighbors, or share the Gospel over a cup of coffee. It is guaranteed to chase away those After-Christmas Blues — for good!
If part of your blues comes from the burden of debt, especially from the extra Christmas shopping, please consider contacting Christian Credit Counselors, as they are a trusted source of help.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Seven Gray Swans: Trends that Threaten Our Financial Future. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.