It’s the most wonderful time of the year...except it’s not. While many approach the Christmas season with overwhelming excitement and glee, others watch the month of December approach with dread and long for this season to over. We may even find ourselves like George Bailey standing on a bridge peering down at the chilly water below and an ending to the pain of Christmas, once and for all. And I understand, speaking as a recovering Christmas hater. But this is not going to be a trial of Christmas, presenting arguments for why gifts are stupid, lights tick me off, and Christmas music…don’t even get me started. This is about the trials of Christmas, and furthermore, healing from the hurt and anger we often point towards the innocent bystander, Christmas.
If we were to be completely honest with ourselves, we do not hate Christmas itself because Christmas in an inanimate thing. Christmas has not done anything to anyone. Christmas and everything affiliated with the holiday, from Santa to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, have not personally afflicted any of us, but it is often easier to place our anger and sadness on something rather than someone. It is hard to own our feelings about the holidays because it inevitably leads to vulnerability and the possibility of experiencing those things all over again. Herein lies the true trial of Christmas.
But Is Christmas Innocent?
Well let me start with why Christmas is innocent. Christmas did not forget to give us a present. Christmas did not give us one more present we did not ask for, don’t need or want, reminding us of the painful reality that we are not truly known by the ones we long to be known by. Christmas did not take our loved one away from us. Christmas did not abuse us to the sounds and smells of season. Christmas did not lead to the end of our serious relationship. Christmas did not take our job. Christmas did not take our child. Christmas did not do any of the things that we are reminded of sharply and painfully by the arrival of the season. And it is time we let Christmas off the hook and heal.
So why heal?
If we can agree that Christmas is in fact innocent of inflicting hurt, sadness, and disappointment on us, then we can begin to heal. And here’s why I think that letting Christmas go free or healing with your feelings is valuable for you.
First, if we can begin to heal we can possibly avoid the trial of entering the slump of depression set to tee off in t-minus 2 to 3 weeks, after enough Christmas cheery, obligatory parties and such because we may not be repressing all the anger, hurt, and sadness any longer.
Second, in my thirty plus years on earth, there has always been a Christmas. Other credible sources tell me it was pretty consistent before my time and massive amounts of Christmas hatred has yet to be a proven antidote to the arrival of December 25th. Based on that information, I would say that we are bound to continue to experience the same trial of pain, self-pity, and resentment about every twelve or so months unless we find the courage to heal.
And third, we can finally be free to find some form of enjoyment in the holiday of Christmas, if you can believe that is possible. Again, lots of credible sources say it is possible (usually those people we love to hate around this time of year), so we could date to believe we could have some true joy if we have experienced some true sadness about the holiday season.
How to heal
But how do you heal? It is not easy, but the first step is to find trustable people. If you do not have any or do not know what a safe person is like, here’s a good resource for you to look into for guidance. Second, once you know what those people are like, find some. Churches, social interest groups, or neighborhood groups are a good place to start. So is personal counseling if you have not considered it. Next, express your feelings about what you are experiencing to those safe people. Tell them about the hurt, sadness, anger or whatever feelings you have about your life and how the Christmas season brings those feelings up for you, but did not necessarily cause those feelings in you. Own it. Own your pain, your sadness, your disappointment and hurt in a caring community. Then look for joy. Find something that allows your self to reengage with true joy in the holiday season, creating a new chapter in your story. Here’s a resource to help you with this part. And you do not have to hide behind a layer of Griswalden false joy, but true, George Bailey joy. You can find that true joy in something that has meaning and power to you, find joy in being known by others, in something that gives you real hope once more, hope that everything sad will become untrue, which is what Christmas is about.
My hope and prayer for you this holiday season is that you will want to live again. That you may even find joy in your mouth bleeding....