December 16, 2015
I cannot believe it's Christmas already! Time has gone so fast. So many things have happened in our family since last Christmas. We have had the loss of our mother and father and a wonderful aunt. Yes, it all happened in one year.
It's going to be unique around the table at our annual family Christmas dinner. Three chairs will be empty. That's a part of life some may say. We learn to adjust and resume of normal life. The most important thing is make sure while you are living you are doing all you can to live a positive, productive, meaningful, caring, godly life.
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 cowbells at Junkanoo, open gifts and eat fruitcake, 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 discord, 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 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 experienced the pain of parental favoritism during Christmas time. How then could Christmas be fun?
What you can do
One thing you can do, if you lost your loved one 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 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 they are:
o 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.
o 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.
o Try spending the time in as "un-Christmassy" a way as possible, by long-waited house cleaning or decorating, repairing the roof if the weather is good, working in the garden.
o 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.
o 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:
o Identifying single parents, widows, and widowers, and troubled families in your church, or community, and plan to visit the individuals during Christmas and the New Year.
o Invite these individuals to community or church activities, and assign a "big brother" or "big sister" to these persons to befriend them, and provide emotional help. Wherever possible, include these individuals on planning committees, community events, and development projects.
o Do not probe or seek to investigate their personal lives, just be there for them.
Don't do it
This Christmas remember not to spend what you do not have. Do not be forced to buy gifts, go on trips, if you know you do not have the money. Do not be lured into the spending trap by banks that are not concerned about your pocket but only a sale for themselves. When you give in to that temptation you later find out that it is impossible to pay back the bank.
Dear readers, go now and make someone happy during a potentially very sad time of the year. Go, and put merry into someone's Christmas.
o Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, U.S.A. Send your questions or comments to email@example.com; write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas; or visit www.soencouragement.org; or call 327-1980 or 477-4002.
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