Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Blues

As a pastor, I've become increasingly aware that the Christmas season isn't a time of joy for everyone. Cries of "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" and upbeat carols can't always overcome feelings of sadness, isolation or grieving. This is especially true if we have suffered the loss of a loved one around Christmas time.

The cultural myth we labor under is that "everyone else is having a great time at Christmas." This can heighten feelings of sadness and isolation. Yet, for many, Christmas is a stressful time of shopping and card sending deadlines. Holiday gatherings with family members can be difficult and challenging. W.H. Auden admitted in his poem, For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio, to "Having tried, quiet unsuccessfully, to love all of my relatives..."

Also, there are those who feel depressed during the darker and colder months of winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a documented psychological disorder. That's why most "Blue Christmas" services take place on the Winter solstice, the longest night of the year.

So tonight, I'm participating in a Blue Christmas service. This is a service of solace and comfort for those who find the Christmas season difficult or depressing because they are grieving for a loss or feel alone and isolated. This service acknowledges that Christmas can be a difficult time and offers hope to the disconsolate and grieving.

For those of us who are having a merry Christmas, let's not forgot those who aren't. Christmas can be a time of reaching out to those who need a word of comfort and solace.

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