Christmas musings

December… what does it mean to you? Christmas carols on the radio? Beautifully decorated store windows? Brightly lit houses and Christmas trees? Children eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa? Christmas pageants and carol services? Family and friends gathered for Christmas dinner? All these things and more. I remember Christmases as a child. My Dad and I would always get a real Christmas tree and we all decorated it the next day. Presents were added (there were a lot of us in the family) and anticipation was high. Creeping down the stairs Christmas morning was a magical time. I was allowed to open my sock, so I slowly went into the front room and just absorbed the feeling of mystery and quiet. My sock always had a couple of comic books and one new book (Nancy Drew) to cherish in the weeks to come. Some candy and always an apple and orange in the toe of the sock. These were rare treats. There was also always a new stuffed animal. One year it was a gigantic teddy bear dressed in a top hat and tails. I loved my stuffed animals and my Mom would very often find me curled up asleep on the couch hugging my new stuffie when she came down. It wasn’t until I was grown that I discovered not everyone had those kind of memories.

In my late thirties, I had a breakdown and as a result suffered panic attacks. On the recommendation of my doctor, I attended a group counselling session. There I met people who had very different memories from my sheltered ones. That’s when I discovered December is a hard month for a number of people.

It’s the dark time of the year. Many people suffer from SAD and find it hard to be happy when it’s so dark.

Not everyone has a family with which to celebrate the holidays and some have family who are toxic and they have no fond memories. One of the girls in out group described what her Christmases were like. Her mother was an alcoholic and by the time dinner was ready she was well into her cups. So much so that on numerous occasions the dinner was spoiled because she threw up onto the turkey. That was so far out of my experience, but it did open my eyes to look around and see what others were feeling.

Some have lost someone they love in the previous year and this will be the first Christmas without them, and yet all around are commercials saying “buy this, buy that to make you and your loved ones happy”. TV shows are the Hallmark Christmas movies with the girl and boy finding love and everyone coming together or specials with singing and dancing and smiling people.  I have one friend who lost her husband just before Christmas and has to get away from home to somewhere quieter where she can find some peace.  Christmas is very hard for her and for other of my friends who do not have the person they want most to share the holidays with.

There are pictures of bountiful feasts and wonderful decorations, while many are without homes and won’t have much if anything to eat, so it’s not so hard to see why December isn’t happy for everyone.

I did not write these musings to say “don’t celebrate”, nor to say “bah, humbug” but to remind us that there are others who may be especially sad and lonely at this time of year. If you attend a church service, say a little prayer or light a candle for those who are grieving. Let’s be patient when shopping for our Christmas gifts. Be mindful that not everyone has gifts to buy or someone to share them with. Let’s be kind to one another and do the best we can to bring comfort and a little joy to everyone we meet. Most of all, let’s be thankful and express gratitude for the love and bounty we have every day that we live.

Merry Christmas! 

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