Here we go again. Every year, immediately after Halloween, the Christmas decorations begin to decorate store windows, commercials showing high-end automobiles, expensive perfumes, alcohol, and Black Friday Sales. Thanksgiving seems to have taken a back seat and has almost become politically incorrect to even mention it. When I was teaching in the public schools, teachers received an announcement asking us not to discuss Thanksgiving or introduce any form of Indian/Pilgrim stories or art projects. It had nothing to do with religious beliefs, it was about how the white man killed and robbed the Indians so therefore, we are no longer allowed to teach the traditional Thanksgiving Story. Of course, we can’t forget Christmas. Another holiday that has been removed from the schools in fear of offending other religions. What I really find hypocritical is on Thursday we bow our heads and offer thanks and talk about what we’re thankful for and Friday morning, 3am people are up and out pushing and shoving their way into the store the moment the doors unlock, run frantically to fight other people over sale items on Black Friday.
My husband and I decided to do something different this year. Instead of spending a small fortune (that we can’t afford) on an expensive dinner and weekend get away at a resort, we chose to spend last night volunteering to serve Thanksgiving dinner to our community. Every year our church puts on a wonderful Free Thanksgiving feast. It felt wonderful to greet the people, tell them about the evening and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. I sat with many different families and spoke with children for brief moments gave them a warm, sincere smile and told them how I enjoyed spending the evening serving them.
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.