By Barrington Brennen, 2000,
Last week you shared some fun
things couples can do during Christmas time and year round. The truth is, Sir,
there are many who are not happy during the Christmas season. It is the saddest
time of the year for me, because my father died on Christmas day near the
Christmas tree about forty years ago. Since that day I do not look forward to
Christmas. Could I be happy again during Christmas?
Dear Sad One, I am glad you asked
the question because most people do not realize that Christmas is not a fun-time
for everyone. Many of us are unaware of the thousands who experience the
"blues" or "depression," and loneliness from about the
beginning of December to the middle of January. While thousands are anxious to
ring the traditional cow bells at Junkanoo, open gifts, eat spicy fruit cake;
yet there are countless others who dread listening to the sentimental seasonal
music that fills the air during Christmas time.
One reason why so many can be depressed
and lonely during Christmas time is often centered on the idea of what Christmas
is all about---a time for family togetherness. Too many marriages have broken up
around Christmas time. Some of the most painful explosive arguments, secret
revelations, and family fights, have occurred during or around Christmas time.
There are many husbands who have lost
custody of their children, learned that their wives were cheating on them during
Christmas time. There are many wives who have experienced the worse of marital
discords, learned that their husbands had sex with other women who might have
AIDS, all during Christmas. There are many who have lost their most precious
loved ones, like you dear Sad One, through death during Christmas time. On the
other hand, there are many children who have had their biggest fights with
brothers and sisters over toys or experience the pain of parent favoritism
during Christmas time. How then could Christmas be fun?
WHAT CAN YOU DO, SAD ONE?
One thing you can do, dear Sad One, who
lost your loved through death during Christmas time, is to allow yourself to
release the pain of the past. Give yourself permission to let go of the past and
enjoy the present. Often many feel guilty when they are having fun during
Christmas because they feel it would be disrespectful or dishonoring the memory
of loved ones with whom they shared life. Life goes on, even after the death of
a loved one during Christmas. If your loved one was alive, you would be spending
it in laughter and joy. I am certain he would have wanted you to continue the
fun-time with others today Forty years is a very long time to hold on to the pain
of the past. You have hindered your own growth and healing by refusing to let go
of the past. Honor the memory of your loved one by enjoying the present.
TIPS TO OVERCOME CHRISTMAS
A leading psychologist, Professor Brice
Pitt, writes for Depression Alliance on several things one can do to overcome or
prevent the Christmas depression. Here there are:
- If the problem is having to be with
other people you don't like, try to minimize the damage. If you're invited
for longer than you can bear, explain why you have to leave on Boxing Day; if
family descends on you for too long, arrange to go away immediately after
- You may like the idea of getting away
from it all, by taking a cheap holiday over Christmas, or immediately after,
when prices are lower.
- Try spending the time in as "unChristmassy"
a way as possible, by long-waited house cleaning or decorating, repairing the
roof if the weather is good, working in the garden.
- If you're alone and lonely, find out in
advance whether your church, community, or constituency is having a
get-together for people and if so, join in. And if you decide not to, at
least you have made that choice. Telephone friends and family. Plan small
treats for yourself.
- Remember that the nurses, police,
welfare agencies and similar services don't take a holiday at Christmas. They
know that it is a difficult time for many people, and they are eager to help.
THE CHURCH AND COMMUNITY
Churches and community organizations can
help to reduce the pain for many during this Christmas season by doing the
- Identify the single parents, widows,
and widowers, troubled families in your church, or community.
- Plan to visit these individuals during
Christmas and new year time.
- Invite these individuals to community
or church activities.
- Assign a "big brother" or
"big sister" to these persons to befriend them and provide some of
their emotional needs.
- Where possible, include these
individuals on planning committees, community events, and development
- Do not probe or seek to investigate
their personal lives, just be there for them.
Dear readers, go now and make someone
happy during a potentially very sad time of the year–Christmas. Go, and put
merry into someone’s Christmas.