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Blues of Christmas

Blues of Christmas

The 2015 year is rapidly coming to an end. I get a perplexing feeling when I ponder the end of a year. It is different from the one that I get when I wonder about the year to come after my birthday celebration. It seems that the year following my birthday is singular, intimate and personal. The year following New Year's Day feels more collective, public and community based. Most people wish others to have prosperity, health and even spiritual awakening in the year to follow. There is a sense of optimism; the New Year will bring joy and happiness. Even if everyone's compassion lasts for only just one brief twenty-four hour period of time, it is still there.

We are ten days out from Christmas. A time when people are getting ready to celebrate a Holiday dedicated to giving and receiving. I am often amazed at the stress that is created during this time of year. Sometimes the psychosocial trauma lingers for months after the holiday has passed. I hear stories from patients about Christmas and their personal failures as givers. That saddens me. What disturbs me most? The giver's self-worth is attached to what they can pass on as a token of their love and appreciation. I hear patients tell me that they are depressed if they cannot give their loved one a wow-gift. (That is a gift that that makes a person say "Wow! I had no idea!") A wow-gift tends to put the giver in some sort of financial distress long beyond the Christmas Holiday, sometimes well into the New Year. Common sense would dictate otherwise, but somehow common sense leaves all of us during Christmas.

It seems that almost everyone feels they deserve something from anyone they know, regardless of how close they are. I believe we have lost the true meaning of the Christmas Holiday. As a society, I wonder if we have ever really known what Christmas really means. It is as mysterious as Thanksgiving. Its ever changing folklore accompanies our modern day celebration every fourth Thursday of November. The same holds for Christmas. Now that mass commercialization has infected the Holiday, all metaphors have been lost to a mere gift exchange of some kind. But I love giving gifts to those I truly love. I make them.

Humans have an urge to celebrate everything from their birthday to their last day on Earth. We all have participated in thousands of celebrations throughout our lives. Last night, I saw a celebration on a reality show that featured two sisters who unveiled their noses after undergoing plastic surgery revisions. They wanted to celebrate their new look with their friends, family, relatives and the television viewing audience. Everything including Christmas seems to have gotten twisted.

To some people scattered around the Northern Hemisphere, the midwinter season brings striking darkness, cold and even hunger. The winter solstice signals the coming of gloom until spring arrives. In medicine, doctors diagnose Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to explain people's deeply depressed feelings during the winter season. It is thought that the lack of sunshine is a major contributing factor for patients manifesting SAD as their mood spirals downward during the winter months. We all have heard tales of people going mad as spring approaches; we know it as cabin fever.
An interesting aspect of modern living is that each of us can almost get rid of winter's darkness with the flick of a switch: an electric light. LED lighting can mimic sunlight or even give brighter illumination if needed. So the coming of the winter solstice means that our electric bill might increase if we use more light during the darkness of the day. That was not the case for our primitive ancestors. Perhaps they believed the Sun was being reborn on the Winter Solstice, and as it matured throughout the year, it gave us more sunshine and daylight.
There are hundreds of editorial articles written on the origins and evolution of the celebration of Christmas, specifically what it means to different groups of people and why. The holiday itself does not seem to be a problem, it is the emotions of giving and receiving that appears to cause people the most trouble. If someone does not feel worthy of receiving a gift, it is as hard on their psyche as if someone does not feel well off enough to give a gift. Each side of the coin can be as disheartening as the other.
And those people who have lost loved ones and family members have a particularly hard time dealing with their loved one's absence during the entire winter holiday season. The past cannot be relived and the present and future seem empty without them. The bottom line; it's a very emotionally powerful season.
What can we do to find some sense of comfort during the period of time between Christmas and New Year's Day? Find your own personal ritual that speaks to your heart and soul. If it includes those you love: Great! If you choose to sit by the fireplace alone, quietly reading passages from the Bible or some other Holy book which gives you great joy: Don't miss it!
If giving more than you can afford brings you hardship and worry throughout the New Year: Stop doing it! And if people decide that you are not worthy to celebrate with be-cause you are staying within your Christmas budget: Dump them! Find another more authentic group of people to celebrate with.
Don't let the Blues of the Holidays infect you. Enjoy yourself first and the rest will follow. If you keep everything into perspective, your New Year will be brighter even though the beginning of the season will have less sunshine.
Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:33 AM
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