Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas depression

Today is “finish all my homemade Christmas gifts” day and tomorrow is my “I am finished with Christmas shopping” day. It is a good week. The fruits of my online shopping trips are piled mostly in Amazon boxes in my laundry room patiently waiting to be lovingly wrapped and ribboned. Though it seems like a daunting task when I look at it now, it will be invigorating once I start. I like to pray for the gift recipients as I wrap their gifts, asking God to bless them with blessings far beyond the simple ones I will give.

Psychologists and counselors tell us that they are apt to see more clients during the Christmas holiday season than at any other time of the year. While many of us are enjoying the warmth and joy of Christmas, the celebration of Christ’s birth and the delight of fellowship with family and friends, others are struggling with the pain that comes to them, some in overwhelming ways, during this time. I believe that many people have connectors back to past Christmases that remind them of either happier times or sad ones and the memories will bring about depression whether they realize what is causing it or not.

I can well understand this since I have the same experience every year at this time. We have lost 3 of our parents during this season as well as several close friends. I have miscarried twice during Christmas. Some of my most difficult times of spiritual wrestling have come during the Christmas season. My dear friend, Renee, lost her husband in a terrible accident 3 days before Christmas 2 years ago. Her Christmastime will never be the same, and neither will mine as I seek to bear her burden.

A few weeks ago I was in the Christmas section of K-Mart and suddenly felt a terrific sadness come over me, a deep heaviness resting on my heart. I wanted to leave, I wanted to cry. What was it that triggered these overwhelming emotions? I don’t know. Sometimes the music will take me back to a time, a story from long ago. Other times it might be a certain holiday food or a smell. One year I was in the hospital preparing for surgery after the loss of our baby and the television in the waiting room was broadcasting live coverage of American troops landing in the Middle East. The room was decorated for Christmas and I can still picture how it looked and the feelings I was experiencing that morning. That moment will forever be in my basket of memories.

Other times I am brought back to the first few years of our marriage when we had three little ones. There wasn’t much money in those days but we were all so happy, living in a farmhouse with no storm windows, dirty, yucky coal heat, and often ice in the toilet bowl in the coldest of Decembers. It was in those days when we established our family Christmas traditions, ones we still have today...a tree from the tree farm, handmade stockings, lots of Christmas music, special treats. Those memories are both sad and happy and I will carry them forever.

Sunday we sang this song and what a blessing it was to me as I thought about its application for those of us who celebrate Christ’s birth and resurrection at this most wonderful time of year. In the midst of our manmade joys and our fleshly struggles, God’s Word, His Son, Jesus, who IS the Word and who was made flesh to dwell among us, to experience our temptations and who is acquainted with our grief, yes, His Word and words abide with us. Amen.

Ancient Words
By Michael W. Smith

Holy words long preserved
for our walk in this world,
They resound with God's own heart
Oh, let the Ancient words impart.

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e'er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true
Changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age.
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world.
They resound with God's own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart.

We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.


At 4:20 PM, Anonymous givengrace said...

I love your tradition of praying for the gift recipients while wrapping their presents; I think I will steal it.


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