It’s that time again. The holidays are upon us. We are being bombarded with commercials to buy new cars, perfume, alcohol, the list goes on. Advertisers are also guilty of showing happy families sitting down for the holiday meal, each nicely dressed and chatting politely. You can almost smell the heavenly food as they politely pass around each dish. I have lived through 57 Thanksgivings and Christmases. Through the years I have spent them with my immediate family, friend’s family, boyfriend’s family, husband’s family, my sister’s family, total strangers on a cruise ship, and completely alone. As we age, the families grow and begin to divide. For those who never had children, holidays become more difficult once our parents pass on and other family members move away or become more distant. Lively neighborhoods bustle with the sounds of family and friends gathering across the street for the celebration we long for with our loved ones.
It has been a myth that suicide rates tend to increase during the holiday season. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience a high incidence of depression. High expectations, money woes, and other holiday hazards can spell trouble for those prone to depression. every where you turn, you’re being told how much you should be enjoying this time of year. You know you should be happy and having fun, but it just isn’t happening.
I remember the first Christmas after my mother had passed away. I was only 24 years old, single and no children. I had an older sister that had three boys living in the same town. That fall, I enrolled in a college class that dealt with holiday depression. I knew it was going to be difficult so I was trying to be pro-active in planning. One of the many things suggested was to plan a vacation. Go some place different. Being as how I lived in the pacific northwest, Christmas season was always cold, wet and dreary. I opted for a cruise to the Bahamas. I worked a second job for eight months just so I could pay for it. I had a wonderful time. It didn’t feel like Christmas day as I laid on the warm white sand with the sound of the ocean and gulls flying above. For four days I was able to escape the traditional holiday and enjoy my first Christmas without family and minimal depression.
As a Christian and an older adult, Christmas means something totally different to me than it once did. I no longer get caught up with all the reckless spending. My husband and I usually splurge and go to a nice restaurant for dinner and then enjoy a quiet evening watching holiday movies. We appreciate the fact we don’t have to deal with family bickering and their Olympics, annoying discussions and tired, unruly children. We celebrate the birth of our Lord and give thanks to Him. What is truly delightful is that when January rolls around, our budget still looks the same as the month before.