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Christmas Sadness

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

THE PROBLEM

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 funtime 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 SADNESS

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:

  1. 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 Christmas.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 following:

  1. Identify the single parents, widows, and widowers, troubled families in your church, or community.
  2. Plan to visit these individuals during Christmas and new year time.
  3. Invite these individuals to community or church activities.
  4. Assign a "big brother" or "big sister" to these persons to befriend them and provide some of their emotional needs.
  5. Where possible, include these individuals on planning committees, community events, and development projects.
  6. 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.

 
 
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Permission is granted to print these pages and to make the necessary copies for your  personal use, friends,  seminar, or meeting handout.  You must not sell for personal gain, only to cover the cost to make copies if necessary.    Written permission (email) is needed to publish or reprint articles and materials in any other form. Or you call at 242-327 1980.  Copyright © 1999 Sounds of Encouragement. All rights reserved.   Articles written by Barrington H. Brennen, Counseling Psychologist, Marriage & Family Therapist.  P.O. Box CB-13019,  Nassau, The Bahamas.     question@soencouragement.org