Like many people celebrating Christmas, whether as a spiritual discipline or social experience, there is no calm before the storm for me. In fact, it seems like Christmas Eve EVE might even be the storm before the calm. Every year I commit to getting everything done early, but more times that not, I’m right in the mix of the final gift buying frenzy, braving the crowded grocery store fighting over that forgotten ingredients and mentally preparing for the interaction marathon that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the Day After Christmas that is my family’s life.
In many ways, this rush is part of the experience, or at least part of what Christmas has become. Sometimes it makes me sad to see how much about Christmas is not about the hope, joy, love and peace that I understand it to be, while at other times, I am tickled by the genuine change in the tone of interactions that happens during this time of the year. From the skip in a business person’s walk, to the tough guy in a Santa hat, whether you think someone has declared war on Christmas or you are declaring your own war on those who have declared war on those who are declaring war . . . this is a pretty wonderful time of the year time of the year.
But, I know, not for everyone.
As I go into these last days, like everyone else, I try to remember the many people for whom this is not a joyous time of the year. With themes of joyous parties, happy families and generous giving surrounding us, those who struggle with depression, estranged family and/or economic survival are often forgotten. I don’t lift this up in order to compel feelings of guilt or to cast aspersions on folks who are living large during this time, but simply as a nod and a word to those who struggle with these times to say that you are loved.
- You are loved by this stranger.
- You are loved by people that you might not expect.
- You are loved by God.
And yes, I know that my words offered on a blog post will not heal your spirit, reconcile families or feed your body, but in this, I hope you know that there are many who show this love not only during the holidays or not only with words, but who are there for and with you when you need them. I don’t know where the words and actions will come for you, but I believe there are those people for all of us: it might be your neighbor who has invited you to join them for a meal, or maybe it’s that stranger sitting at the table next to you at the cafe with whom you share a brief conversations or when it is really bad, it’s that suicide hotline that you never would have imagined that you would ever need.
So, while I wish those who are struggling all of the joy, peace, hope and love that I can muster, my greatest hope is that you know deep in your soul that you are not alone.