No More Worms for Christmas Dinner

It’s the Christmas tradition I’m ready to ditch. 

With-nessLiving away from extended family means most of our holiday celebrations are either shared with friends or spent with merely my four fellow Holmbergians. More often than not, it’s the latter. As an introvert, that’s often okay with me. Other times it produces a subtle but steady pain, similar to a headache that you don’t quite realize you have until you find yourself spitting nails at your spouse — utterly unprovoked. 

Every year, the days leading up to the holiday slowly erode and I find myself standing on unstable emotional ground. Internally, I hope for an invitation to join friends for celebration. Yet I know it may not come: many folks travel, receive loved ones from far away or live locally to their own extended family. If I want to be certain to share the day with others, the grown up thing to do is reach out and extend an invitation myself.

The problem is I’m not always so grown up.

I have a juvenile insecurity that assumes everybody else has a full dance card. I fear when I get up the gumption to call friends that it will be answered negatively… they’ll already have plans to celebrate with others. Which would, in turn, confirm my belief that the whole planet has their holiday cohort pre-established and that I’m the only one left out. (Sing it with me now, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m going to eat some worms.”)

I didn’t say it was a rational belief.

The result is that I put myself in a never-ending cycle of insecurity-induced loneliness: to prevent potentially hearing that my friends have plans elsewhere, I choose not to extend an invitation at all. In so doing, I rob myself and my family of the joy of fellowship. But that’s not all; my fear doesn’t just hurt me and my household, it denies us the opportunity to bless others who might enjoy a shared celebration, as well.

Immanuel. God with us. Jesus came to enter our world — our very lives — to restore our relationship with God to wholeness, thereby bringing glory to the Father. His incarnation and sacrifice eradicated our alienation from a most holy God. Jesus is the Gift of With-ness. (Sounds like my tongue is pinched between my fingers, doesn’t it?)

I want this truth about our Jesus to comfort me, quench the feelings of loneliness, but also embolden me. Because of Immanuel, we need no longer experience the ache of feeling left out. God is with us. Always. (Matthew 28:20) With that knowledge stored in my heart, maybe I can summon the courage to reach beyond the limits of my self-imposed isolation and throw open the doors to whomever might wish to join us for dinner this year.

I won’t be serving worms.

Do you struggle with similar issues? Or am I the only one?
Let’s encourage one another; share your thoughts below, share the post
or click ‘like’ to stand in virtual solidarity.

Please share!
    • Jennifer Dandrea

      Kirsten, thank you for being so open and honest in your post. Having lived near family for so many years, we rarely step out of the ‘tradition’ of spending Christmas with (just) my parents. We go to my folks for an Italian ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ on Christmas Eve and we have them over for a meal on Christmas Day. We never see friends on Christmas Day – that would be breaking tradition! But would Jesus want us to do that? He’d want me to open my doors to family, friends and those who don’t fit into either of those categories.

      And I never do.

      And I’m switching from ‘we’ (sharing the blame with my husband and my folks) – to ME – because I can make that change and bless others with fellowship and food. I can be the one to step out of that comfortable place and throw open my doors.

      Thanks for the sharing your feelings of insecurity – it made me think about how un-Jesus-like we really celebrate His birthday.
      So…you Holmbergians want to come here or should we swing by your house?

      • Kirsten

        Jennifer, what I love MOST about your reply is the desire to do as Jesus would want. When that’s where our hearts are, we know we’ll do the right thing (even if it’s untraditional!). Will touch base with you soon!

    • Hester Christensen

      Great post Kirsten!

      … you’re not alone at all – similar on my end too. ;)

      love, Hester

      • Kirsten

        Nobody would think it of you, Hester — which is all the more reason to be candid with our emotions, isn’t it? Wish you were just a little bit closer to come join us.

    • Daria Olson Carter via Facebook

      Well done Kirsten!

    • StephCirrito

      Tears filled my eyes when I heard about all my friends Thanksgiving plans to visit family. I’m in the same boat, and haven’t seen my dad, brother nieces, aunts, uncles and last, but most important, my mamaw in two years as of last August. I am truely not an introvert, but I am lonely

      • Kirsten

        Aw, Steph, I’ve shed those tears, too. Knowing how many others are with their loved ones makes it seem so desolate when we’re not. Introvert or extravert — we can be lonely!

    • Cindy Penner

      Great post! Dale and I have been talking about this very thing. We’re about ready to step out and invite friends over this year. Let’s just do something different. Be with people who don’t have people to be with or they don’t want to spend time with or that they are uncomfortable. I’m very excited about the possibilities and opportunities that come with that. So, you may just have another place to be that day. We won’t be serving worms either! :)

      • Kirsten

        Cindy, I’m so glad to know there are others out there who will be opening their homes. I love your attitude towards this — be sure to let me know how it turns out!

    • Debbie

      I’m the social one in my household, but find my spouse does not crave interactions like I do…more often than not, we’re alone and while I do enjoy time to just do nothing with my family, I secretly wish we had plans (Is this a run-on sentence?). We have family in town and use it as our default activity. Again, fun times are had, but I’m ready to break the tradition as well. Thanks for encouraging me to be bold this year!

    • Lisa Caulfield Tears fill my eyes, too, as I realize there are so many others that feel the same way I do and have experienced the loneliness of not having family to share holidays with, nor friends that invite us to share with them. I have reached out, typically to be turned down, but also NOT reached out because I made an assumption that they have family, or ‘lots of friends’, so are already busy for the holiday. I’ve often found I was wrong, too, in my assumption. I plan to be better about that.

      And then I talk to my family back in Seattle, who are spending the day together, and I miss the good times and laughs that always come when we are together. This year, for the first time ever, friends have extended an invitation to come over. We may take them up on that! I’m up for it! I pray you are inundated with requests for your company. Thank you for sharing your heart, Kirsten. You are doing God’s work here.