unfair christmas

When Christmas is Unfair: How to Celebrate an Unfair Christmas

Can you celebrate an unfair Christmas? We think so. Here is why…

Our Unfair Christmas Story

On Christmas morning, Jenny and I try to keep things fair. We are a blended family, so Jenny and I are hyper-vigilant about keeping things even among all of the children. Jenny meticulously counts the number of presents, each child will receive, before setting them under the tree. She has a common step-mommy concern. Jenny doesn’t want her stepdaughters to find things unfair and think she loves her biological children more. So our family takes every precaution to keep things equal.

Although keeping things fair is great for the children, “fair” isn’t a reality for most adults. Life doesn’t play nice, and it usually isn’t fair. This year, things are not equal in our blended family homes. Less than two weeks before Christmas, I returned from family court with sobering news. Despite our 50/50 parenting schedule, our family will now be paying the other family’s rent in its entirety.

It’s Not Fair…

As you can imagine, Jenny and I’s first reaction was, “It’s not fair!”

  • It’s not fair that our girl’s mom chooses not to work, and our family has to pick up the slack.
  • It’s not fair that my ex-wife’s husband is living rent-free in an apartment we pay for.
  • It’s not fair that, as a result of a court decision that took a minute to make, our family will struggling to buy food, diapers and to keep the lights on.

Our list of frustrations could easily go on. While it’s obvious that our family is hurting, I’m not sharing this with you to vent. Instead, I want to show you how our family uses the unfairness of life to celebrate the season.

The good news is that there is also a second set of ways that life is unfair for Jenny and me… and this other side of “unfair,” makes all of the difference.

Flipping Unfair Upside-Down

We rarely think about the fact that life is unfair in good ways too. For example:

  • It’s not fair that I’m married to a smart, gorgeous, fun, mommy, step-mommy, and best friend, while so many other couples are hurting.
  • It’s not fair that I’ve been blessed with four happy, healthy daughters while others struggle to have children.
  • Our family lies in a fantastic home, while so many people around the world struggle to survive. This, too, is not fair.
  • Our Christmas day, spent celebrating with family, food, and presents, is unfair–many don’t have this incredible opportunity.
  • It’s not fair that nearly two-thousand years ago, God became a baby so that we could have a resorted relationship with Him.
  • Jesus, dying on the cross, for my sins, is not fair.
  • Heaven–an eternity spent with our Creator and Savior–is most certainly unfair.

Yes, life is unfair. In my mind, I keep two lists, and I bet that you do too. The first list contains all of the negative ways that life is unfair. It’s a compilation of everything that is wrong with the world. While this list isn’t all bad–there is certainly a time and a place for mourning our losses–if we choose to hone in on the ways that life is against us, we will feel miserable.

When Live is Unfair in Our Favor

The second list contains all of the ways that “unfair” works in our favor. Today, our family is setting the disappointments aside. We are choosing to celebrate with family, and rejoicing that life is unfair in good ways too. We have an abundance of blessings that we did not earn and do not deserve, and I bet you do too.

James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift is from above. Today, I thank God that life is unfair!” In fact, “unfair” is what Christmas is about. God, becoming a baby, living a perfect life, and dying to pay the penalty for you and I, is perhaps the most wonderful, unfair, event of all.

Continue the Conversation

Today, instead of bemoaning the negative side of unfair, our family is choosing to celebrate the multitude of unfair blessings that have come our way. Use the questions below for additional reflection and discussion.

  • What are some ways life is unfair to your disadvantage right now?
  • How is life unfair in your favor?
  • Do your feelings change when you focus on ways life is unfair to your advantage?
  • How will you celebrate an unfair Christmas this year?
  • What thoughts would you add to this post? 
  • What other questions about celebrating an unfair Christmas do you have?

Please feel free to join in the celebration with us by sharing your unfair blessings in the comments below. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

5 thoughts on “When Christmas is Unfair: How to Celebrate an Unfair Christmas”

  1. Hey Jed,

    This is a good thing to reflect on. Just off the top of my head, I’d say it’s not fair that I was born in a 1st world country, and live where I can benefit from indoor plumbing, electricity, insulated walls, thermal pane windows, and a roof that doesn’t leak. I also have a soft bed, more this one set of clothes, multiple pairs of shoes, and more than one coat.

    I’ve been where people don’t get to enjoy these luxuries. I also know I don’t deserve these blessings. It makes me appreciate them much more.

    Now…with much blessing comes much responsibility. That’s where I fall short. I know there are people with less that are more generous, and more grateful than I with what few blessings they have.

    I’m praying God will give me more of that kind of gratitude and generosity.

    1. Thanks Jon,

      This is such a great list. And to give credit where it is due, I borrowed this idea from our friend Erik. I was getting caught up in all the ways life could be easier, simpler, and more fair, while forgetting the many blessings that my family and I have. Wisdom from one of Erik’s old posts came to mind, and I thought this would be a good way of pulling myself out of a slump.

      Putting “indoor plumbing,” on your list is another timely reminder for us. A few weeks ago, our kitchen sink clogged up for two days. Something as simple as freely flowing water is easy to take for granite, until it’s gone. I can now vouch, that this truly is an enormous blessing–The amount of dirty dishes that can pile up over a weekend, when there is no way of getting them clean, is astounding. I too am praying for greater gratitude and generosity .

  2. Hey! You stole my idea! No fair! (hee hee)

    “Steal” away, my friend. As I’m always saying, if something is true, it’s always been true. I didn’t make it up. Any truth any of us shares is “stolen” in that sense (or as you put it, “borrowed”).

    One of the pieces of advice in The Best Advice So Far is this: Life is not fair. The sooner you accept this, the happier you will be.” I think I even mentioned that in the post you referenced. The first truth in there is that, if we wait around for life to “even out” or “get fair,” we will sit immobilized, pouting and playing the part of the victim instead of getting up and being an agent of change in our own lives (or the lives of others). But, yes, the fortunate flip side of that is that life is unfair in some pretty darned incredible ways, as well!

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