Guilt at Christmas

Feeling guilt at Christmas, HeartStories

I recently watched a ridiculous music video called “I’m giving guilt for Christmas“.   It’s a corny song about a guy who is tired of feeling guilty about Christmas and instead decides to return all that guilt in “payback” and “pay it forward” to all the people in his life.  Sounds like a great plan, huh?  Not.  

It sounds like a guy who’s hurting as he’s realized how unproductive and harmful guilt has been in his life.  He wants to get rid of it, but has no idea what to do with it.  Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics:

I’m giving guilt this Christmas
just like mother taught me
it’s the best
it outlasts everything she ever bought me.

Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving
year in and year out
What is Christmas
without something to feel bad about?

What’s interesting about his little song is that, he has apparently allowed the judgement of others to make him feel guilty.  And it’s haunted him his whole life.

I find this topic appropriate today, in light of all that is going on in our world, because I know my tendency is to feel guilty at Christmas. Every single Christmas I feel like I’ve spent too much money.  I give too many gifts.   I get too many gifts.   And on and on.

This year, in light of the plight of so many refugees, it’s easy to feel guilty for even the smallest of celebrations.

I don’t know all the answers, but I know this: guilt isn’t a productive emotion.  Feeling bad about my life of privilege won’t help a single refugee.  Only taking positive action can do that.

Guilt is not the gift I want to keep on giving to my children for years to come.

I want to give them the gift of freedom.  

Freedom to love, to give, to laugh and live.  I want to teach them humble gratitude and joy for the gifts they receive, free from the damaging strings of guilt.   I want them to see with their own eyes and hearts the disparity between the privilege we have and the needs of others.  I want that honest conversation to be part of the fabric of their being.  I don’t want them to be paralyzed by guilt.

Instead, I want them to be empowered by an abundance of love, so much so, that they decide to spend their lives taking action to love and care for people well.

As I battle my own inner inclination toward guilt you’ll find my family in a nerf gun war with our new (well, pre-owned) Christmas presents, laughing and enjoying all we have.  In between games, you’ll find us reading about, giving to and praying for the desperate needs of the refugees.  Because it is right to do both.

It’s our responsibility (and our joy) to gratefully celebrate what we have, free from the chains of guilt.  

If you’re struggling with an inclination toward guilt this week,  let it go.  Focus on love instead.  Love your family.  Love your friends.  Love your neighbors.  Love everyone you can.

Don’t let this season be about the gift of guilt that will keep on giving, for generations to come.

It’s about the gift of Love.

Let’s keep that one giving.

to more love,


P.S.  I’m signing out for the next few days to shift my focus to celebration and to love my family. (guilt free!) I’ll miss you!  And I’ll see you next week. Love and joy to you!


  1. You just absolutely nailed it for me! I can totally relate! We did a good deed advent calendar for the second year in a row. I think it has been my attempt to do more for others in order to relieve me of my guilt. No matter how hard I try I’m unsuccessful. I wish I could get rid of this guilt! You’re message is wonderful and I’m so glad you were able to release yourself of you’re guilt! Hope I can too!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Anita! I think most of us deal with guilt in one area or another. It’s a constant, not a one time thing. I’m so glad I can help you not feel so alone! You’ve got this. Happy New Year sister!

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