The Christmas Blues: When the World Rejoices and You Mourn
© 2011, Vicki Hinze
Days that try souls are all too common. Yet during the Christmas season, the myriad of feelings that weary us and try our souls—feelings of being isolated and adrift, of being sad or depressed, our struggles—are magnified.
Maybe it’s because we’re more attuned to others attending parties and we’re not, gathering with family and we’re not, or gathering with family or friends or groups that we wish we were not (just keeping it real) and we must.
Maybe it’s because we’re bombarded with memories of Christmases past. Ones where our children were small and at home and we enjoyed their wonder of Christmas, their joy. Or we were small and we view our memories through a lens where time dulls the bad and magnifies the good.
Maybe we’re acutely reminded of all those we’ve loved who are no longer with us, and we miss them. Or we remember a life that once was ours and is no more, and the change, whether good or bad, isn’t as significant as mourning the loss of what was. Or what we dreamed would be that just didn’t happen.
Maybe we’ve lost the joy in the season under the lengthy to-do lists that leave us too exhausted to enjoy anything except the peace in a bath and a few hours sleep.
There are a lot of emotional triggers during the holidays. Some we expect and can prepare ourselves for, but some we don’t know are triggers until we’re body-slammed by them.
We’re all confronted with difficult relationships, difficult situations, and difficult people who want or expect more from us than we wish to give or maybe than we can afford to give. Financially, emotionally or spiritually.
We lose the wonder and awe and the magic under busy-ness and requirements, under obligations and command performances. We lose the wonder and awe and the magic under changed circumstance. (Think divorce or job loss or empty nest. Think widow or widower, orphaned, injured or ill. Think knowing it’ll be your last Christmas and craving a Norman Rockwell one and getting one where you spend the entire day alone.)
All this happens. And when it does, we are hurt and sad and alone and isolated, and we are surrounded by others who are having a merry and joyful time. And we are resentful and bitter because often even those who are shunning or ignoring or too busy to be bothered never once extend their thinking to how their actions are impacting others. Often others they purport to love.
My point isn’t to drag you into the depths of despair. My point is to make you aware that many—even those you wouldn’t suspect—are in the depths of despair.
Who in your world will be alone this Christmas? Who needs to hear from you? To spend time with you? Whose Christmas can you make a little brighter simply by bringing them into your circle and welcoming them as family and friend?
Before you slough that off as more work and bother, pause a second and remember that one day, the person in that position might be you.
Even the most wonderful Christmas has moments of heartbreak and sadness. Christmases past, those no longer with you. Changes. And when those strike, you crave comfort.
It’s hard to find. Those you typically go to and discuss your troubles, big or small, are tied up with their own troubles, big and small, with their obligations and requirements and duties and nurturing their own needy.
Does that mean you’re doomed to suffer without comfort? To stay sad or depressed or struggle alone?
No. It doesn’t.
When the Christmas blues strike, I always remember what Christmas is truly about: the birth of Jesus Christ. But I don’t think of that event in the way you might think. I think …
The World Rejoices. God Mourns…
I think of God, watching His son’s birth, knowing all that would happen to Him. As a loving Father, his turmoil and the heartbreak He surely felt at knowing His son would be mocked and abused and betrayed and lied to and about, tempted and beaten and murdered. God mourned. If I, an imperfect parent, mourn at the mere thought of my child enduring any of that, imagine the pain and agony of a perfect Father knowing His child would endure all of it. Imagine…
We protect our kids. We’d take their place. Suffer for them. But God, who loves unconditionally, sacrificed His son knowing what would come.
I think of that, and the turmoil and mixed blessings and agony God endured that night and I weep—and I tell myself that if He had the strength and courage to do that for us, then whatever we face might loom large but is small in comparison. If He can do all He’s done, we can do what we must do.
In my mind, I sit at God’s feet with my head in His lap, and He strokes my hair and assures me everything will be all right. I am not alone; He is with me. And I am comforted.
Whenever feeling small and insignificant, hopeless or helpless, remembering what God sacrificed for us and how precious a gift it was and remains empties the desolate spaces inside us of sadness and angst and refills them with comfort and gratitude and the reassurance of His grace and unconditional love.
And then I wonder.
I wonder that we seldom choose to serve ourselves well when the Christmas Blues strike. We seldom choose to pause and remember or to ask and answer a question that deserves far more attention from us than it gets:
On that night when His son was born and the world rejoiced and He mourned, who comforted God?