Cap's Corner covers the "Christmas Blues"

by Cap McIlnay

Christmas time, for many people, is one of the most wonderful times of the year. But for others, it is not. For many people in our community, the season between Thanksgiving and New Year is the worst time of the year for them.

This season is a season for family, and this is what makes the season so magical. But what of our neighbors that do not have family, or those whose family ties have been severed? For them, this season is a season of painful memories, a season of loneliness, and a season of dark thoughts. This is one of the reasons why doctors see an increase in depression, attempts of suicide, and acts of suicide. When it seems that the rest of the world is happy – full of joy and family reunions – it highlights the brokenness of their own lives.

There are many reasons why people feel pain in this season. For some, this may be the first holiday season that they are experiencing after the death of a loved one. Or it could be just the second or third time.

People do not get over the death of a loved one; they just learn how to manage that loss and accept that their new “norm” in life is a norm without someone. Time does not heal all wounds, but in time, we learn how to deal with the loss. But that loved one is always with you.

Family ties that have been damaged or severed are other reasons for the Christmas blues. This season reminds people of what they had. Even if they still cannot forgive others or move past the damage done, that doesn’t mean they don’t still miss and love those family members.

There are economic reasons for the Christmas blues. For those families that are struggling to keep the electricity on or keep the rent paid, they are looking at this season as a time when their kids will have to have less than their friends; they may not get anything for Christmas.

This adds additional stress to their already stressful lives, and it comes with feelings of guilt for not being able to give your kids any gifts for Christmas. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners might be – if the families are lucky – macaroni and cheese with a can of Spam.

Christmas blues can come to all of us for different reasons: a divorce, loss of a job, loss of a boyfriend or girlfriend, car troubles … the list goes on and on. Who hasn’t experienced at least one Christmas with depression?

This season of joy for everyone else (or so it seems) just makes those that are in pain feel more alone than ever. This time of year, they feel as if they are the only ones who are in pain, who are alone, and who are having these dark thoughts. On top of it all, the weather is cold; the days are shorter and the nights are longer.

For some, this time of year seems to have been created for the reading of works by Edgar Allan Poe.

However, for those that are feeling this way, I want to encourage you to reach out to someone. If not to family members, then to a neighbor. And if all else fails, reach out to God.

In Psalm 73:21, we read: “21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” How many of you reading this have ever felt this way? I suspect most of you have. Who hasn’t had a grieved or embittered heart or soul? If you spend any time on this planet, you are bound to have experienced this. No one walks on earth without scars.

In the next verse, we read: “23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.” As a pastor, I have been asked several times, “Where is God in all of this?” This is as good of an answer as any. Even if we don’t reach out to God, His hand is always reaching for ours.

What is it like if you accept the hand of God? What is it like, if in your loneliness and in your pain, you took hold of His hand? “24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory,” we read.

In the depths of my depression, in the depths of my loneliness, and in the depths of my pain, I discovered I was not alone. It was when I found myself in this valley of the shadow of death that I discovered I was not alone. There was no one else there for me but my Father. “25 Whom have I in heaven but you?” I discovered there was no one besides my Father, and it changed my life. This is the moment that I became a Christian and fell in love with my Father!

What do I now think about what this life has to offer? “And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” I do not fear death, for on the other side of death is an eternal life with my Father! “26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God (my Father) is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

If you are one who is experiencing the Christmas blues, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!