Word Up Wednesday: The Paradox of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

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Images from www.pexels.com

Images from www.pexels.com

It's the most wonderful time of the year

I can’t shake this sadness...  

With the kids jingle belling

It’s my first Christmas without daddy...

And everyone telling you be of good cheer

I wish people understood...
It's the most wonderful time of the year

But not for me. 

It's the hap-happiest season of all

I can’t bear to fake another smile...
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings

I can’t say how I really feel...
When friends come to call

I’d much rather be alone...
It's the hap-happiest season of all

But not for me... 

 

The most wonderful time of the year is met with dread for the majority of Americans. The reasons are many: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), loss of loved ones, family pressure, expectations around gift giving, a lack of time, and much more. For some, the dinner time conversations around their marital status and/or children brings up feelings of inadequacy. For others, the holidays trigger memories of traumatic event. Personally, the holidays are tough for me because of my SAD. And as a hospice chaplain, I see firsthand the blues that creep in around this time of year whether it’s the first or twentieth Christmas without the presence of a beloved family member. 

Its one thing to have to reconcile your perceived moodiness in the midst of the merriment, but for me, and other followers of Christ, there is an added tension: How does one respond to the good news of Advent when despair/depression/doubt is draped over every aspect of life like a heavy blanket?

I have found that it is precisely the coming of Christ—both in time past in and time to come—that gives me the hope to know that depression, though present, does not have the final say. God showing up for me in Christ strengthens me to show up for myself, my family and the world. The joy of Jesus in my heart resounds more and louder than the jingle bells of the season, which evoke a sense of disquietude. I have come to a place where I can celebrate the coming of Christ—the one who is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace—without giving totally in to the consumerism and pressure that abounds. I have also tempered my expectations, I’ve learned how to excuse myself from activities I don’t want to participate in, and I am especially mindful of my sleeping, eating and exercise during these times. These coping mechanisms help me to be more joyful when I do show up for holiday festivities. 

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If you’re one of the folks who doesn’t find this season to be wonderful, I encourage you to try the tips on this infographic from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And if you need more support, I encourage you to seek the help of a support group or counselor. The best thing to remember is that you don’t have to go through this alone.